The trial of a Syrian man accused of throwing his three children out of a window at a refugee shelter has started. He was allegedly frustrated because his wife refused "to accept the roles they had back home."
There has been a heightened interest in crimes committed by refugees in Germany since mass sexual assaults on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, blamed largely on migrants and refugees, made international headlines.
On Tuesday, a Bonn court charged a 36-year-old Syrian man with three counts of attempted murder and grievous bodily harm. Prosecutors say the suspect admitted to throwing his children out of a window because he wanted to punish his wife.
The defendant's lawyer Martin Kretschmer said his client deeply regrets what he did. The man listened to the prosecution's reading of the charges with tears in his eyes. Earlier when he entered the courtroom, he had his blue T-shirt pulled over his head to hide his face. Handcuffed, his chest bare, he kneeled on the floor.
In February, he allegedly grabbed his three young children after an argument with his wife and threw them out of the first-floor window of a refugee shelter - a former Chinese restaurant where the family was housed in Lohmar, a town near Bonn.
The two oldest children - aged seven and five - suffered broken bones and skull fractures, while the one-year-old landed on top of the older brother and suffered only a few bruises and a liver contusion.
It wasn't the first time the couple had argued. In January, the man allegedly beat his wife with a saucepan. He was arrested and slapped with an order not to enter the premises for 10 days. But his wife gave in and let him return after a few days.
According to the court, the man's wife refused to "accept the roles they had at home, and did not want to put up with everything he wanted anymore."
The children, whose physical wounds have since healed, and their mother have meanwhile left the refugee shelter for an undisclosed location. The mother is registered as a joint plaintiff in the Bonn trial. Her lawyer was not available for a comment on Tuesday.
Women's rights must be protected in refugee shelters too, and the female refugees' needs must be taken into account, German Institute for Human Rights Director Beate Rudolf said earlier this year. "That means conceiving of programs that take into account their point of view, and measures that include them."
The defendant fled Syria in 2014 via Turkey, Bulgaria and France before arriving last year in Germany, and was only joined later by his family.