German Police Vexed by Exit of Iraqi Man Accused of Murdering Jewish Teenager in Wiesbaden
Anxious German authorities on Friday were attempting to establish how an Iraqi refugee accused of the horrific rape and murder of a German Jewish teenager was able to leave the country with his family unhindered last week.
Ali Bashar — the 20-year-old suspected of sexually assaulting and then killing 14-year-old Susannah Feldmann on the outskirts of the city of Wiesbaden — was arrested by security forces in the Kurdish capital of Erbil in northern Iraq on Friday morning, following a request from police in Germany. On Thursday last week, German media outlets reported, Bashar flew to Turkey with his wife and six children, with German airport officials apparently not realizing that he was traveling with different names on his identity papers and his airplane boarding card.
While Iraq and Germany do not have an extradition treaty, German officials were hopeful that Bashar’s arrest by the forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) would make the process of returning him for trial more straightforward, news outlet Focus reported.
Feldmann, from the city of Mainz near Frankfurt, was reported missing on May 22. She was found dead on Wednesday in a wooded area near train tracks in Wiesbaden on the opposite bank of the Rhine river, near a refugee center where the suspected attacker had lived, police said. An autopsy showed that the 14 year-old had been the victim of a violent sexual attack.
Bashar was already under investigation for a suspected robbery and was appealing a December 2016 decision by German authorities to reject his asylum application.
Germany’s Central Council of Jews confirmed that Feldmann was a member of the Jewish community in Mainz, near Wiesbaden. Calling for a thorough investigation, the Council warned in a statement against “premature conclusions” regarding the motive for the attack. Since Feldmann first went missing, Germany has been gripped by the case, which has occurred against the background of an increasingly bitter public debate about the impact of the more than one million refugees from the Middle East who arrived in the country in 2015.
Joachim Stamp, integration minister in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, called during a Friday interview with broadcaster ZDF for a recurring, quarterly migration summit of officials from the federal government, the 16 states, and local officials.
Stamp said it was crucial to accelerate the asylum process and expand the list of countries to which rejected asylum seekers could be deported.
The head of the Jewish community in Mainz, Aharon Ran Vernikovsky, told the Jüdische Allgemeine Jewish news outlet that he was “as shocked, saddened, and stunned by the violent death of Susanna as one can possibly be.”
“We will be there for Susanna’s family to help and support them as much as possible,” Rabbi Vernikovsky said.