Suspect in US arson case also wanted in Germany: prosecutors

4th January 2012, Comments 0 comments

A 24-year-old man due in court later over a four-day arson spree in Los Angeles is also being investigated in his native Germany on charges of arson and fraud, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Harry Burkhart was detained in the early hours of Monday after the fourth night of deliberately set fires centred on Hollywood, which caused millions of dollars in damage over the New Year holiday.

"We are conducting an investigation against the 24-year-old Harry B. on suspicion of arson and fraud," said Annemarie Wied, a spokeswoman for prosecutors in the central German city of Marburg.

Authorities are looking into a fire that took place at a property in central Germany in October last year. "When the fire was extinguished, there were indications of arson," Wied said.

She added that the case against him rested on links to the property and the fact that an application to change the insurance policy had been made on the same day.

Burkhart's mother Dorothee is fighting deportation from the United States and is wanted in Germany on 19 counts of fraud, mostly for allegedly cheating tenants out of security deposits, according to new court documents.

She told a federal judge in Los Angeles on Tuesday that her son was mentally ill, as she appeared in court, apparently unaware her son had been arrested in connection with the arsons.

In all there were 53 deliberately set fires in Hollywood and surrounding LA districts, causing more than $2 million in damage, triggering a massive inter-agency taskforce to reel in the city's most prolific arsonist in years.

No one was killed or seriously injured in the attacks, most of which targeted cars parked either outside homes or in car ports under buildings, but residents were clearly rattled.

© 2012 AFP

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