Police arrest two suspects in Potsdam racist attack case

21st April 2006, Comments 0 comments

21 April 2006, KARLSRUHE, GERMANY - Two German men suspected of nearly killing an Ethiopian-born engineer in a racist assault this week were being questioned Friday about the crime by a federal magistrate.

21 April 2006

KARLSRUHE, GERMANY - Two German men suspected of nearly killing an Ethiopian-born engineer in a racist assault this week were being questioned Friday about the crime by a federal magistrate.

German federal prosecutor Kay Nehm said the men were denying the attack.

"Both insist they have nothing to do with the crime and are asserting alibis," he said in the federal court centre in Karlsruhe.

Nehm said there was compelling evidence against them. Traces of blood found on a broken bottle at the scene did not come from the victim, and a witness to the attack would link the two suspects to the crime.

After the men, aged 29 and 30, were detained Thursday in Potsdam, near Berlin, the prosecutor said race hate appeared to have been the motive for the brutal beating and kicking of the black victim at a city tram stop at 4 a.m. on Sunday.

The suspects were flown Friday morning in handcuffs and blindfolds to Karlsruhe in south-western Germany.

The same day, police disclosed a fresh racist attack. In the eastern German city of Magdeburg, a 39-year-old black social worker born in Mozambique was racially abused and punched in the face Thursday evening by neo-Nazis as his 14-year-old son was next to him.

Police were planning to indict five attackers for sedition, assault and wearing Nazi symbols.

There were fears in Germany this week that neo-Nazi attacks might frighten away some of the hundreds of thousands of visitors due in Germany in seven weeks' time for the World Cup football tournament.

No testimony has been obtained from the Potsdam victim, identified by the prosecutor as Ermyas M, a 37-year-old father of two. He remained in critical condition. The hospital said his condition was stable.

Nehm said he took federal control of the case because it was the latest in a series of hate attacks. He drew parallels with two earlier federal cases: the neo-Nazi killing of a 39-year-old Mozambican in 2000 and the attempted murder of two Vietnamese in 1999.

It remained unclear whether the Potsdam suspects were active neo- Nazis. Nehm declined comment, saying his job was first to establish the facts of the attack and then the motive. Suggestions by interior officials that the suspects might not be neo-Nazis were "unhelpful."

A chilling, 39-second sound recording of the attack was made via the victim's mobile phone, and the words "dirty nigger" were audible. The recording was broadcast and is likely to be a central exhibit at the trial.

Municipal officials in Potsdam were organizing a public rally Friday in sympathy with the victim, who has German citizenship and was completing a doctorate in irrigation engineering at a Potsdam scientific institute.

DPA

Subject: German news

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