Foreign juveniles held after subway attack in Munich

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Police detained three teenage asylum seekers after an attack on two Germans in a Munich subway station amid a debate about juvenile crime in Germany.

6 January 2008

Munich (dpa) - Police detained three teenage asylum seekers after an attack on two Germans in a Munich subway station early Sunday amid a debate about juvenile crime in Germany.

The trio was part of a group that kicked and punched their 22- year-old victims, requiring them to undergo hospital treatment, the Bavarian capital's chief police officer, Wilhelm Schmidbauer, said.

A 17-year-old Iraqi and two Palestinians aged 16 were caught on surveillance cameras and picked up a short time later, Schmidbauer said, adding that police were looking for two other attackers.

The detained youths, who denied any involvement in the attacks, entered Germany illegally in September 2007 and submitted an application for asylum, the police chief said.

It was the fourth violent assault to take place on the Munich subway system in two weeks.

On Dec. 20, two Greek and Turkish youths were caught on camera chasing and savagely beating a retired school principal who had asked them to stop smoking on a train.

That attack prompted a leading politician in Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) to claim there were "too many criminal foreigners" in Germany, triggering a debate on youth crime.

Roland Koch, who is seeking a third term as premier of the state of Hesse in elections on Jan. 27, also called for a crackdown on juvenile delinquents, including more detention instead of fines.

On Saturday, the CDU leadership backed Koch by adopting a resolution calling for tougher action against young offenders and steps to make it easier to deport foreign criminals.

The proposals call for raising the maximum sentence for under-21s convicted of serious offences to 15 years and a "warning shot" period of detention for those receiving probation for violent crimes.

Foreigners given a sentence of one year or more would be liable to deportation under the plan, which also seeks the introduction of boot camps where young offenders could be sent for re-education.

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