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Just four convictions for refugee home attacks

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A refugee home burning in Weissach im Tal in Baden-Württemberg, August 2015. Photo: DPA
10:52 CET+01:00
Just four out of 222 recorded attacks against refugee homes in Germany this year have ended with a conviction for the perpetrator, an analysis by German newspaper Die Zeit shows.

Journalists at the newspaper followed up each of the 222 cases where human beings had been or could have been hurt – the most serious of the 747 recorded crimes against the country's refugee accommodation this year.

There have been increasing numbers of fire attacks against refugee homes over the course of 2015, with numbers growing from between one and three in the first four months to 20 in October.

Out of the 93 fire attacks, almost half were against buildings where people were already living.

So far in 2015, 104 people have been wounded in fire and other attacks against refugee housing.

But prosecutors have secured convictions against just four of the people behind the violence, with a further eight cases ongoing – making for a total of five percent of cases that have even seen a day in court.

Low solve rate is unusual

Police were able to identify a suspect in fewer than one quarter of attacks against refugee homes, leaving most of them unexplained.

And 11 percent of the investigations have been cancelled altogether.

In cases of serious arson, the police usually have a much better record in solving the crime.

Half the cases of serious arson investigated by police under normal conditions ended with a suspect brought to trial.

While the state of Saxony in the former East suffered the largest number of attacks – both in absolute terms and in proportion to its population – police were no better at identifying the culprits behind fire attacks in the former West than in the East.

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The nature of the crimes – often committed at night, in sparsely populated areas, using fire to destroy evidence – makes them difficult to investigate.

But the journalists at Die Zeit argue that in cases where police have used all the means at their disposal to investigate, they have managed to identify the culprits.

It's in areas with few officers available and lacking in technical resources that the lowest conviction rates have been seen.

SEE ALSO: Refugees to face tough new screening process

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