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CRIME

Defendant admits guilt in trial over rape and murder of Freiburg student

The young refugee, who has been put on trial for the rape and murder of a teenage student in Freiburg last year, admitted his guilt in an extensive statement to the court on Monday.

Defendant admits guilt in trial over rape and murder of Freiburg student
Hussein K. in court. Photo: DPA

Hussein K. told the state court in Freiburg on Monday that he had happened across 19-year-old Maria L. as she cycled towards him late at night last October.

In the preceding hours he had shared two bottles of vodka with friends before smoking several joints and then visiting a night club. He then took a tram to the area in which the crime occurred. After he got out he stole a bicycle, but crashed it and injured himself, he recounted.

It was then that Maria L. cycled towards him. He kicked her off her bicycle and held her mouth closed. When she screamed he began to strangle her with his scarf. At some point she lost consciousness due to being strangled.

He then noticed that she was a pretty girl, he said.

“It came into my head – do it, have sex with her.”

He undressed her and, after attempting several times to rape her, he sexually assaulted her with his hand.

At this point he believed he had already killed her, he said. Because he had smeared his own blood on her from a wound he had inflicted on himself when he crashed the stolen bike, he threw her into the river to try and eradicate the evidence.

Several details of Hussein K.'s story appeared to contain contradictions, which he blamed on gaps in his memory.

The defendant also apologized on Monday to the family of his victim.

“I am sorry from the bottom of my heart for what I did,” he said. “I understand that it is very difficult for the family.”

A ruling on the case is expected in December.

Refugee debate

It is still unclear how old Hussein K. is, or where he is from, but his arrest in November last year nonetheless created huge media interest, as it has highlighted holes in European security procedures.

Critics of the government's refugee policies also suggest that Hussein K., who had already been convicted of attempted murder in Greece, was only able to enter the country because Germany had stopped controlling its borders.

One of the most controversial aspects of the case is that Hussein K. had been sentenced to 10 years in jail in Greece in 2013 after he pushed a young woman off a cliff on the island of Corfu.

But at the end of October 2015 he was placed on parole with the requirement to report to police every month. Officials then lost trace of him two months after he was released.

He left Greece shortly after being placed on parole, but only a nationwide search was initiated by Greek authorities, not an international one. Neither Interpol nor the Schengen Information System (SIS) were alerted.

Interior Minister Thomas De Maizière said in December that if the Greeks had launched an international search, “the suspect could have been detected at various stages of the systematic checks made by German security authorities”.

Hussein K. applied for asylum in Freiburg when he arrived in Germany in November 2015. This was just a few months after the government opened its borders to refugees and during a time when tens of thousands of people were passing into the country each day.

The murder fuelled growing anti-immigration sentiment in the country. The Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and far-right Pegida group capitalized on it, blaming German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the crime and arguing it was the consequence of “uncontrolled migration.”

GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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