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martedì 5 settembre 2017

Refugee on trial for rape, murder of German student

FREIBURG: A refugee who claims to be from Afghanistan went on trial on Tuesday (Sep 5) for the rape and murder of a German student, in a case that shocked the country and reignited tensions over its liberal asylum policy.

The suspect, Huseen K, was arrested in the southwestern town of Freiburg last December, accused of brutally raping a 19-year-old medical student and leaving her for dead on a river bank seven weeks earlier.

An autopsy concluded that the woman had drowned, with the asylum seeker's DNA found at the scene.

On the opening day of his trial, Huseen K told the court he had lied about his age previously and was actually 19 years old, meaning he wasn't a minor at the time of the crime.

The violent crime made headlines nationwide and triggered a fresh wave of anger over Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to open Germany's borders to refugees at the height of Europe's migrant crisis in 2015.

"This is the trial the whole country has been waiting for," Germany's best-selling tabloid Bild wrote.

Outrage was fuelled by the revelation that the man had previously been jailed for attempted murder in Greece for pushing a woman off a cliff in Corfu in 2014.

He was sentenced to 10 years but walked free after serving little more than a year as part of a Greek initiative to free up space in the country's crowded prisons.

The Greek authorities then lost track of him and he arrived in Germany in 2015, registering as an unaccompanied minor from Afghanistan.

Critics have held up the case as an example of what they see as the poor vetting of asylum seekers during the chaotic influx of 2015, and the lack of communication between countries about migrants with criminal backgrounds.


Details about the suspect's age and background remain unclear.

The accused initially claimed he was 17 at the time of his arrest. But he told the judges on Tuesday he was already 18 when he first arrived in Germany.

"If you're a minor, things are better for you in Germany," he said about the deception, according to DPA news agency.

The admission could pave the way for the suspect to be tried as an adult.

Prosecutors have said they believe Huseen K. is at least 22 years old.

They accuse him of "maliciously" attacking the young woman as she was cycling home that evening "to satisfy his sexual urges" before leaving the unconscious victim to drown.

According to court documents, Huseen K was born in Iran but he told the judges he was born in Afghanistan and moved to Iran when he was around 13.

A verdict is expected in December at the earliest.

Such is the interest in the case that people lined up outside the court building to attend the start of the trial.

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