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Two Held in Racist Attack

Two men accused of a brutal racist attack on a German citizen of Ethiopian origin were remanded in custody on suspicion of attempted murder by a federal court judge Friday.

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Ethiopian-born engineer Ermyas M. was beaten nearly to death

The federal prosecutor's office said the magistrate had issued a formal arrest warrant for two Germans, aged 29 and 30, in a case that sparked outrage nationwide.

The suspects were detained late Thursday and flown to Karlsruhe, Germany, for questioning over the attack in Potsdam, near Berlin Sunday which left the victim fighting for his life.

The prosecutor's office said the men identified as Bjoern L. and Thomas M., were "strongly suspected" of attempted murder "with a xenophobic motive."

The pair had told federal investigators earlier they had nothing to do with the assault and offered an alibi.

Fremdenfeindlicher Mordversuch in Potsdam Gedenken Blumen

Candles and flowers were placed at the scene of the crime

The case has been handed to the federal prosecutor's office because of its severe violence and possible "political" backdrop. The two suspects are reportedly members of the far-right scene.

The 37-year-old engineer was taunted with racist slurs early Sunday by two people at a tram stop before being hit with a bottle, thrown to the ground and beaten. He suffered serious brain and skull damage and has been put in an artificial coma.

The victim, identified as Ermyas M., has lived in Germany since the mid-1980s, has a German passport, is married to a German woman, has two children and is a trained engineer who was working on his doctorate.

Federal prosecutor Kay Nehm said a recording made when the victim tried to call his wife on his cell phone just before the assault had helped track down the suspects. The recording, on which racist slurs can be heard, was recovered from the mailbox of his wife's mobile phone.

Conservative Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble drew sharp criticism for noting Thursday that a racist motive in the case had not been confirmed, and that "blond, blue-eyed" people also get attacked, sometimes by foreigners.

He was accused by the Social Democrats, members of the ruling coalition, and opposition parties of playing down the seriousness of racist violence, which is particularly prevalent in the former communist east of the country.

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