Prosecutors are now probing possible charges of negligent homicide after a 26-year-old burned to death in his prison cell. The man was a victim of mistaken identity and should not have been incarcerated.
A wrongfully imprisoned Syrian man, Amed A., whose death was ruled a suicide in the western German town of Kleve appeared to have called for help, local media reported on Thursday, casting doubt on the official account of the man's passing.
The daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger wrote that a report passed around in the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia, where Kleve lies, indicated that the man had not intentionally set himself on fire. Indeed, it appeared that he had tried to call for help. The public prosecutor is now going to investigate whether the intercom in his cell had been purposely disabled or was accidentally malfunctioning.
Prosecutors will also decide whether to file charges of negligent homicide against prison employees. This includes the jail's doctor, who according to the Bild newspaper, may have omitted or altered important details in the deceased man's health report.
North Rhine-Westphalian Interior Minister Herbert Reul, of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), has already admitted that the 26-year-old had been the victim of mistaken identity and should not have been in detention.
The state's opposition Social Democrats (SPD) have called for a far-reaching investigation into official misconduct. The SPD accused the ruling CDU-Free Democrats (FDP) coalition of providing misleading and inaccurate information about the case. The lawmakers also want an explanation as to how a Syrian man could be confused with a criminal suspect from the African nation of Mali.