Update: Fire attack at Berlin station described as 'brutal murder attempt'

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Update: Fire attack at Berlin station described as 'brutal murder attempt'
Flowers and candles laid at the scene at Schöneweide station. Picture: DPA

A fire attack on two homeless men in Berlin has been described as a “brutal murder attempt."


Berlin social senator Elke Breitenbach, of the Left party, spoke out after the men, a 47- and 62-year-old, suffered severe burns in the attack at Schöneweide station in Berlin-Treptow on Sunday night.

Around 150 people came together on Monday evening at the station to hold a vigil in support of the two victims.

At the scene a sign was held up which read: “Grief, anger, solidarity”. Those at the vigil laid down flowers and candles and laid kindhearted messages down at the scene of the attack.

In an interview with rbb on Tuesday, Breitenbach warned of an increasing brutalization within society and campaigned for more compassion, while also describing the attack as a "brutal murder attempt".

Meanwhile, one of the men attacked is in intensive care with severe injuries, according to reports in rbb.

Lars Düsterhöft, SPD politician for Treptow-Köpenick, told rbb he visited the men in hospital with a social worker and health senator Dilek Kolat (SPD).

Düsterhöft said the man’s skin was seriously burnt and he was “not responsive” during the visit.

However, the second man was is doing well considering the circumstances and recovering in hospital. He has not suffered severe burns.

The victims were treated at the scene and then taken to a hospital, according to reports in Bild.  

The perpetrators reportedly poured a flammable liquid on the homeless men during the attack, which happened on Sunday shortly after 11pm. They were said to be in sleeping bags at the time with a dog, which belonged to one of the men, nearby.

Passers-by raised the alarm while others from a nearby fast-food outlet rushed to try and put out the blaze with a fire extinguisher.


The scene at Schöneweide station. Picture: DPA

The culprits fled on foot.

Charred trainers and other belongings could be seen at the scene after the attack. Police cordoned off the area as investigations got underway. A rose was placed by a passer-by outside the cordon.

Police are treating the act as attempted murder. 

It is estimated that there are between 4,000 and 10,000 homeless people in Berlin. The attack is not the first to be carried out on homeless people in Berlin and other German cities.

On Christmas Eve 2016 a group of young people tried to set a sleeping homeless man on fire at the subway station Schönleinstraße in Berlin’s Neukölln district.

Passengers stepped in and the homeless man was not seriously injured.

Last year, the main perpetrator was sentenced to two years and nine months imprisonment, while three accomplices received juvenile sentences of eight months.

In 2017, two men were also arrested for an arson attack with a cigarette on a 51-year-old homeless man at Munich's Central Station. The main perpetrator was sentenced to six months in jail.






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