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Germany

German Politicians Call for Subway Attackers to be Deported

German politicians want two young men recently convicted of attempted murder to be deported. The case has led to a debate over the legality of deporting German-born immigrants who commit crimes.

A prisoner stands at the window in a jail

Both men were given harsh prison sentences

Even as the two young men's sentences were being announced on Tuesday, July 8, top German politicians such as Bavaria's Premier Guenther Beckstein were calling for both of them to be deported.

Anyone who attacks someone else without provocation and kicks their head as if it were a football has no place in Germany, Beckstein said.

"First jail, then deportation!" Germany's largest tabloid Bild proclaimed.

Unwanted criminals

The two suspects in the Dec. 2007 subway assault in Munich

The attackers are from immigrant backgrounds

Two young men, who grew up in Germany, brutally beat an elderly man a few days before Christmas last year. The men admitted to the attack, saying they were angry after the retired teacher yelled at them for smoking in the subway.

A Munich court handed down harsh sentences. Serkan A., 21, whose family comes from Turkey, will spend the next 12 years in prison. Spyridon L., of Greek origin, was sentenced to 8.5 years of detention in a juvenile facility as he was 17 when the attack occurred.

The case was taken up as a political cause by some conservatives, who blamed young foreigners for increasing crime rates.

Hans Peter Uhl, a member of parliament for the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), and an expert on legal and interior ministry affairs agrees. He said that the department responsible for foreigners should use the time while the men are incarcerated to prepare the legal case to have them deported.

Not an open and closed case

However, criminologist Christian Pfeiffer said that expelling the two men from the country could prove problematic.

When it comes to deportation, there needs to be a long debate, particularly in this case where the men have spent nearly all of their lives in Germany, Pfeiffer said.

View of Munich

Both men call southern Germany home

Someone born here to immigrant parents is "made in Germany" in the sense that he was raised in this society and his social contacts are here, Pfeiffer said. In past cases, courts have rejected deportation procedures against German-born foreigners.

Munich city administrator Wilfried Blume-Beyerle also said the situation needs to be examined before any action is taken. It appears that Serkan A. was born in Germany and Spyridon L., since he is from Greece, is a resident of the European Union, Blume-Beyerle said. The government must provide extremely good reasons to win a deportation order and in the case of Spyridon L., must also show that he is likely to re-offend.

Men seen posing a danger

Bavaria's Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann doesn't believe that it will be difficult to deport the men. The Interior Ministry will push for the corresponding deportation procedures to begin, he said.

"After the sentences are served, we must naturally do everything possible to ensure that these culprits leave our country."

Herrmann noted that the court handed down an extremely strong sentence for both the men. This is a clear signal that the men pose a danger and that deportation is in order, Herrmann said.

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