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Asylum home boss on trial over repeated rape of refugee

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Asylum home boss on trial over repeated rape of refugee
Photo: DPA.
15:16 CET+01:00
The former head of an emergency refugee shelter is on trial this week in Arnsberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, accused of raping a female asylum seeker several times.

A 51-year-old Dutch man who headed a refugee shelter in Finnentrop-Heggen is accused of raping a 23-year-old Syrian asylum seeker at least four times, German media reported on Monday.

The woman also stayed in his home between January and March of this year, according to Der Westen. She became pregnant and had an abortion, according to broadcaster WDR. After she aborted the fetus, a DNA test confirmed that the suspect was the father.
 
The 51-year-old also had 19 prior convictions, including for dealing stolen goods, producing drugs, forgery and also one conviction for a sexual crime, according to Der Westen. Most of the crimes were committed in the Netherlands, but some were also committed in Belgium and Germany.
 
He then became the head of a refugee shelter in Finnentrop-Heggen and was responsible for 200 people living there.

“Fundamentally it is of course the case that people in such facilities are particularly at the mercy of the local staff, who are often not adequately trained or qualified, or were not adequately reviewed before - as is the case in the present case, but also in many other cases,” Marie Frank from advocacy group Pro Asyl told The Local.

“One must only think about the many scandals regarding security firms at refugee shelters.”
 
The shelter was run by a company based in Essen called European Homecare, which was hit by a scandal in 2014 when it emerged that security guards at a Burbach home operated by the firm had bound and abused a refugee, taking photos of the incident.
 
The company then fired its subcontractor that had been responsible for security contracts and stepped up its checks of guards. But then seven other security guards - also in Burbach - were found harassing foreigners online, Der Westen reports.
 
A local government spokesman deflected blame for hiring the suspect in the rape case, telling Der Westen that “selection of staff is done by the company”, referring to European Homecare.
 
Though neither Ministry for Families nor the Federal Criminal Agency (BKA) provide figures on the incidence of sexual abuse in German refugee camps, there is anecdotal evidence of large numbers of incidents.

"So far, we only know about individual cases. But we assume that there is a number of unreported cases," family ministry spokesperson Verena Herb told The Local in March.

"Many of the women in the camps are scared to speak out about what is happening - many of them are for example scared to be sent back home because of it."

In February, a group of refugee women at a shelter in Cologne reported being spied on while naked and blackmailed into sex by security personnel.
 
The German Ministry for Families said in March that it would make up to €200 million available to fight sexual abuse at refugee homes.
 
Living conditions and protections for refugees in Germany have been criticized, including through investigations by the European Commission.

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