Doubts on racist motive behind Potsdam attack

24th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

24 April 2006, POTSDAM, GERMANY - There were growing doubts Monday as to whether the beating of an Ethiopian-born German citizen was an unprovoked racist attack as originally believed, media reports said.

24 April 2006

POTSDAM, GERMANY - There were growing doubts Monday as to whether the beating of an Ethiopian-born German citizen was an unprovoked racist attack as originally believed, media reports said.

The 37-year-old victim - a PhD student and father of two - was found seriously injured at a tram stop in the eastern city of Potsdam early on April 16.

Police last week arrested two men suspected of having attacked and beaten the German-Ethiopian, who has been named only as Ermyas M. At least one of those arrested had links to right-wing extremists.

One of the suspects has been linked to the crime scene via DNA analysis of blood traces.

But reports in several newspapers said Ermyas M. had consumed so much alcohol during the evening at a disco that he was way over the legal limit for driving a car.

The high blood alcohol level was determined by doctors during an emergency operation after which they put the victim into an induced coma.

The reports also say Ermyas M. had been involved in an altercation in the disco and that he later got into a shouting match with a bus driver who insisted on giving him change in coins for a 20 euro (25 dollar) note used to pay his fare.

According to the newspaper Die Welt, Ermyas M. reportedly first insulted the two men who then allegedly attacked him and began kicking them.

One of the two alleged attackers - who is a body builder - then punched Ermyas M. in the face, the newspaper said.

Ermyas M. fell over backwards and hit his skull on the pavement, leaving him with serious head injuries, according to Die Welt. The paper quotes unnamed doctors as saying the life-threatening injuries correspond with falling and hitting a hard surface and not with being punched or kicked.

Investigators have pieced together this course of events from a recording of the attack on the voice mail box of the victim's wife whom Ermyas M. had tried to phone shortly before he was found bleeding at the tram station by a tax driver.

Meanwhile, a row continued between the interior minister of Brandenburg state, where Potsdam is located, and Germany's federal prosecutor who abruptly took charge of the investigation last week.

Interior Minster Joerg Schoenbohm says it is too early to say if the attack was motivated by racism and insists that state police had not needed federal officials to intervene.

"We still have to clear up whether there was a right-wing extremist motive," said Schoenbohm.

Federal Prosecutor Kay Nehm has justified taking over the case by saying it appears similar to other neo-Nazi attacks during recent years.

DPA

Subject: German news

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