Iraqi gets life in jail for teen rape-murder
An Iraqi man was sentenced to life in jail by a German court yesterday for the rape and murder of a teenage girl that fuelled far-right protests against a mass influx of migrants. The Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and other far-right groups have seized on the brutal killing of 14-year-old Susanna Maria Feldman in their campaign against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s asylum policy.
The accused, rejected asylum seeker Ali Bashar, 22, was convicted of the killing and handed the maximum sentence of life in prison by the court in Wiesbaden, the city where the murder took place in May last year. The judge, Juergen Bonk, also found the crime to be of exceptional severity, meaning that Bashar will not be granted parole after 15 years as is usually the case in Germany.
Bashar committed a “cold-blooded murder” and showed “neither remorse nor empathy,” said the presiding judge, adding that during his trial the defendant had “voiced no sincere word of regret”. The Iraqi man battered, raped and strangled the schoolgirl to death in a wooded area near railway tracks on May 23. The court heard he then sent false messages from Susanna’s smartphone indicating she had left for an impromptu trip to Paris.
Her body was only found on June 6 in a shallow grave covered with leaves, twigs and soil. By this time, Bashar and his family had left Germany and returned to Arbil in northern Iraq. The accused was however arrested by Kurdish security forces and, even though Berlin and Baghdad have no formal extradition treaty, taken back to Germany.
Incapable of empathy
Federal police chief Dieter Romann personally joined the controversial operation, as newspaper front pages showed pictures of commandos escorting a heavily restrained Bashar off an aircraft. Bashar later confessed the killing but denied the rape, claiming that he and the girl had consensual sex before she fell, got angry and threatened to call the police. In a separate trial, Bashar is accused of twice raping an 11-year-old girl, who was believed to have also been sexually assaulted by an Afghan youth.