Trial of Iraqi suspect in murder of German teen gets underway | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 11.03.2019
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Trial of Iraqi suspect in murder of German teen gets underway

Iraqi national Ali B. is on trial for the murder of 14-year-old Susanna F. The case has fueled a broader debate about asylum practices in Germany, particularly for individuals who have committed crimes.

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German court tries Iraqi asylum-seeker for rape, murder

In May 2018, 14-year-old Susanna F. was murdered in the German city of Wiesbaden. Her body was found on June 6 of that year in a forest not far from the refugee home where the suspect, 22-year-old Ali B., lived. Ali B., who had applied for asylum in Germany, but had his request rejected, has confessed to the murder. On Tuesday, he went on trial at the Wiesbaden district court.

Susanna's murder made headlines across Germany, fueling a heated debate about how to deal with asylum-seekers who have committed crimes in the country. It also raised questions about the role of the current German government in steering migration, and what can be done to make the judiciary and police work more efficiently.

Read more: German girl’s murder highlights asylum system flaws

While the country's right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party started organizing "vigils" and "solemn marches" after Susanna's killing, others protested against the instrumentalization of the girl's murder for political purposes and the increased polarization of German society. Susanna's killing sparked particular outrage because Ali B. was apparently already known to German police for previous crimes. 

A sign for murdered teenager Susanna F. (picture-alliance/dpa/B. Roessler)

Message of loss for Susanna in Wiesbaden

Arrested in Iraq

Several days after Susanna F.'s death, Ali B. and his family suddenly left Germany for their native Iraq using forged documents. A political scandal ensued. DW reporter Jaafar Abdul Karim managed to contact Ali B.'s mother in Iraq, who said her son had been drunk at the time and could not remember what had happened.

Ali B. in German police custody (picture-alliance/dpa/H. Bratic)

German police traveled to Iraq to apprehend Ali B.

Ultimately, Ali B. was arrested by local security forces in Iraq and brought back to Germany. The chief of the German federal police, Dieter Romann, had traveled to the city of Erbil, in Iraq's northern Kurdish region, together with several members of the country's GSG 9 anti-terror squad and a doctor in order to apprehend the suspect.

Back on German soil, Ali B. confessed to the murder. However, to this day he denies having raped Susanna F. Ali B. has been in pretrial detention in Frankfurt since June 10, 2018.

In a separate case on March 19, Ali B. will also go on trial at the Wiesbaden district court, accused of twice raping an 11-year-old girl together with a 14-year-old accomplice.

Deportation likely?

According to an indictment seen by German regional public broadcaster SWR, Susanne F. sent a text message to her friend's phone shortly before her death, informing her about her distress.

Susanna's lawyer Petra Kaadtmann told SWR that "this friend neither contacted the police nor Susanna's mother ... and that if she had done so, this crime could have been prevented." Susanna's mother had previously criticized the friend on Facebook.

Read more: Germany's list of 'safe countries of origin' and what it means

A verdict is expected in late May. If Ali B. is found guilty, he could be deported to Iraq, though he would likely serve at least half of his sentence in Germany. While deportations to Iraq have been ruled out by the German government since 2006 for security reasons, this does not apply for Kurdish Iraqis, individuals deemed potential terrorists, or convicted criminals.

Editor's note: Deutsche Welle follows the German press code, which stresses the importance of protecting the privacy of suspected criminals or victims and obliges us to refrain from revealing full names in such cases.

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