After several relatively uneventful months passed in Germany without a major incident involving migrants or refugees, the local migrant debate was again reignited after German Police arrested a 17-year-old Afghan teenage refugee in a high profile sexual assault and murder case that had kept the residents of Freiburg, Germany in suspense for months.
The old town is seen from the cathedral tower in Freiburg, Germany
A medical student, officially identified only as Maria L., 19, was raped and allegedly drowned on the night of October 16, when she was returning to her residence hall from a student party by bicycle. Her body was found the next morning by locals on the bank of the Dreisam River in Freiburg, home of one of Germany’s elite universities RT reports.
The case has sparked massive public outcry, prompting police to form a special group consisting of about 40 investigative officers and forensic specialists. After an investigation that lasted for more than a month, police finally arrested the alleged murderer and rapist on Friday. “The suspect is a minor, 17, from Afghanistan, who came to Germany in 2015,” said Dieter Inhofer, the regional chief prosecutor, at a press conference following the arrest.
A single strand of black hair partially dyed blonde, a scarf found on the riverbed, and several DNA samples found on the victim’s body and at the crime scene led investigators to the suspect, police revealed during the press conference. “We were able to speak to the foster family,” David Mueller, head of the special investigative group, told journalists, but refused to reveal the nature of the conversation. “The suspect still refuses to testify,” he added.
The suspect was charged with sexual assault and murder, police said during the press conference, adding that it is yet unknown whether he deliberately drowned the victim or threw the woman in the water while she was unconscious. “The death occurred due to drowning,” Mueller said, stressing that it is the only fact confirmed so far regarding the victim’s death.
As part of their findings, which provoked another wave of revulsion against Merkel's "open door" policies, officials confirmed that the suspect entered Germany illegally and later filed an asylum request as an unaccompanied minor. He then lived with a foster family in Freiburg. He had been charged once before with inflicting bodily harm, but the case was later dropped, police told journalists during the press conference without giving further details. It was unclear if the suspect and the victim had known each other before the incident, or if the attack was planned in advance.
Police also mentioned a similar incident in the nearby town of Endigen, just 30 kilometers from Freiburg, where a woman, 27, was also raped and murdered weeks after Maria L.’s death. No links between the two cases have been found, though a connection might still be investigated, Inhofer said.
“We will have no rest. We will thoroughly examine every lead and will look under every rock – many times, if needed,” Bernhard Rotzinger, head of the Freiburg Police Department, said on Friday.
Meanwhile, as expected, the news provoked outrage on social media, where people again blamed Angela Merkel’s open-door policy for what happened in Freiburg.
“Angela Merkel, look here! Blood of this person is on your hands!” a Twitter user wrote in a post featuring a photo of the victim.
As RT reports, some Twitter users expressed outrage over the situation and mocked the slogans used by advocates of the open-door policy.
for non-Germans: We had cultural enrichment in #Freiburg where a 19 year old med student was raped and murderd by an Afghan illigal migrant.— Kraut and Tea (@Kraut_and_Tea) December 3, 2016
“This is just nonsense: [we] provide for the murderers of our daughters. That is apparently a Stockholm syndrome,” another Twitter user wrote.
It appears that Germany also has a problem when it comes to objective media coverage, and many criticized the German media for their reluctance to cover the story, dismissing it as “an incident of regional significance.”
Following the outrage, Freiburg Mayor Dieter Salomon called for discretion and urged Germans “not to draw generalized conclusions from the suspect’s origin and regard [the incident] as an isolated one instead,” Die Welt reported.
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Capitalizing on the outrage, Germany's anti-migrant AfD party blamed the "uncontrolled" influx of foreign undocumented migrants, with the local police union reminding of the "dangers that go along with massive immigration," according to AFP. But some politicians wished to "dispel the atmosphere of fear." Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel told Bild the murder should not serve as basis for anti-refugee hatred, especially given that "Such horrible murders already happened before the first Afghan or Syrian refugee arrived here."
"We will not allow incitement after such violent crimes, no matter who commits them."
A total of 21,000 rejected asylum-seekers were repatriated in 2015, and an additional 35,000 in the first seven months of 2016, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said at a cabinet meeting in August. In late November, Merkel announced that up to 100,000 rejected asylum-seekers would be returned from Germany to their home countries by the end of the year.