Iraqi admits to killing teenage German girl

Ali Bashar
Ali Bashar
Image: AFP

An Iraqi man confessed in a German court on Tuesday to the murder of a teenage girl which inflamed anti-immigrant tensions in 2018. He denied raping her.

“My vision went black and then it happened,” Ali Bashar, 22, told the court through an interpreter.

“I don’t know how it could have happened.”

His trial for the rape and murder of 14-year-old schoolgirl Susanna Maria Feldman started on Monday under tight security in Wiesbaden, the city where the killing took place.

For the murder alone, Bashar faces a likely life prison term, which in Germany usually translates to 15 years behind bars.

He denied rape and claimed in court that the two had consensual sex before she fell, got angry and threatened to call the police.

To Germany’s far right, Bashar, who is also accused of twice raping an 11-year-old girl in a separate case, has become a symbol of the threat allegedly posed by a wave of mostly Middle Eastern newcomers.

Before the trial, the anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) party again blamed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s grand coalition or “GroKo” government for Susanna’s death.

“The problem isn’t the right but the knifeman immigration caused by the GroKo that has caused ever more bloody crimes,” the party wrote in a Facebook post.

The AfD became the biggest opposition party when it entered parliament in 2017, riding a wave of public anger over sexual assaults and other violent crimes committed by some recent migrants.

In another case in 2018, the fatal stabbing of a German man in the eastern city of Chemnitz, allegedly by immigrants, sparked outbursts of mob violence.

Bashar, along with his parents and five siblings, first arrived in Germany in 2015, the peak year of the influx which would bring more than onemillion people to Europe’s biggest economy.

His request for asylum was rejected in December 2016, but – in a case that critics label as symptomatic of an overwhelmed and dysfunctional system – he obtained a temporary residence permit pending his appeal.

In May 2018, Bashar allegedly beat, raped and strangled Susanna to death in a wooded area near his refugee shelter.

Her body was then buried in a shallow grave covered with leaves, twigs and soil, near railway tracks.

When her remains were found two weeks later, Bashar and his family had left Germany for Arbil, northern Iraq.

However, he was arrested by Kurdish security forces and, despite the absence of a formal extradition treaty between Baghdad and Berlin, taken back to Germany.

In a controversial operation personally joined by federal police chief Dieter Romann, Bashar was put on a flight back to Germany, with pictures of him disembarking under heavy police guard making front pages.

Bashar also faces charges for a park robbery in which he allegedly beat, strangled and threatened a man with a knife to steal his watch, bag, phone and bank card.

He faces a separate trial from March 19, accused of having twice raped an 11-year-old girl.

Prosecutors have also laid charges against an Afghan youth, Mansoor Q, who was believed to be aged at least 14 at the time, also for the rape of the 11-year-old girl.

Prosecutors say Bashar’s younger brother – who is believed to be in Iraq, according to media reports – also took part in a sexual assault against the younger girl.