A refugee was convicted of murdering a medical student in the southern German city of Freiburg on Thursday after more than six months of trial. The killer was given a life sentence by the judge, who in her verdict stressed the particular severity of the mans guilt.
"He knew, that she was still alive as he laid her in the Dreisam [River], that she would drown, that she had to drown," said presiding Judge Kathrin Schenk.
The crime shocked the idyllic Black Forest town, best known for its university and Gothic churches. 19-year-old medical student Maria L.* was found dead in the river in October 2016. She had been raped and strangled before drowning.
Hussein K., who confessed to the crime, came to Germany in 2015 where he registered an Afghan minor. However, the homicide investigation has turned up a number of irregularities – it turned out that Hussein was born in Iran, not Afghanistan, and that he could be as old as 32.
Previous assault charge
Further angering officials was the revelation that Hussein had been convicted of assaulting a woman on the Greek island of Corfu in 2013. He had been given a 10-year jail term, but was released just a year later due to overcrowded prisons. Former Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere attacked Greece for not only allowing Hussein to leave the country, but also for not trying to ascertain his true age.
Hussein further lied to the authorities when he said his father was killed fighting the Taliban. However, they managed to reach the man by telephone in Iran, who said that his son was born in 1984, and thus not 17 years old as he claimed. However, as Judge Schenk pointed out, this telephone call was problematic because the man may not have understood that under German law, he had the right to remain silent in a case regarding a close relative.
The defandant had told the court he was 18, however, so he was able to be tried as an adult and not as a minor. Minors cannot be given life prison sentences in Germany.
The tragedy prompted Afghan refugees in Freiburg to hold a vigil for the slain student, showing the public that they condemned the violence.