Afghan asylum seeker jailed for life in Germany for rape, murder

A file photo of German police. (AFP)
Updated 22 March 2018
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Afghan asylum seeker jailed for life in Germany for rape, murder

FREIBURG: An asylum seeker claiming to be from Afghanistan was sentenced to life in jail in Germany on Thursday for the rape and murder of a student that stoked public fears and a backlash against a mass influx of migrants.
Hussein Khavari, of uncertain age and origin, was found guilty of the deadly night-time attack on medical student Maria Ladenburger, 19, in October 2016 in the university town of Freiburg near the French border.
Khavari pushed her off her bicycle as she was riding home alone from a party, then bit, choked and raped her and left her on the bank of a river where she drowned.
He was arrested seven weeks after the murder after a huge manhunt. Police had found a black hair partially dyed blond at the scene, then spotted Khavari by his hairstyle on security camera footage and linked him to the crime using his DNA.
As the crime sparked public anger and revulsion, social media users posted sarcastic “thank you” messages to Chancellor Angela Merkel over her liberal policy that brought more than one million refugees and migrants to the country.
During the trial, prosecutor Eckart Berger had reminded the two jurors sitting alongside three judges that “on trial is a criminal offender and not Germany’s refugee policy.”

Arrival in Germany

Khavari arrived in Germany, without identity papers, in November 2015, near the peak of the refugee influx, as an unaccompanied minor claiming to be 16 or 17 years old and hailing from Afghanistan.
A police officer told the court that Khavari’s cellphone and social media accounts suggested he had lived in Iran.
Khavari was sent to live with a German host family in the picturesque town on the edge of the Black Forest, went to a local school, learnt German and received state benefits.
It emerged only after his arrest that he had already committed a violent crime in May 2013 in Greece, where he pushed a woman off a cliff on the island of Corfu, leaving her badly injured.
He was sentenced there in February 2014 to 10 years jail for attempted murder but was granted a conditional release from Greece’s overcrowded jails in October 2015.
He fled via Austria to Germany, where authorities knew nothing of his criminal past because Greece had only issued a nationwide warrant, and because no match was detected in an EU-wide fingerprint data base for asylum seekers.
Khavari was initially tried as a juvenile offender, but prosecutors tabled expert opinions that estimated him to be older than 21.
One assessment based on X-rays of his bone structure found him to be 22 or 23 years old, while a dental analysis estimated him to be aged between 22 and 29.
The court accepted the assessments and sentenced Khavari as an adult.
The defendant had on the second day of court hearings in September admitted to the crime, claiming he had heavily abused alcohol and drugs at the time.
He also claimed that his father died long ago in a battle against Afghanistan’s Taliban.
The presiding judge, Kathrin Schenk, in December dialled a number on Khavari’s cellphone and reached his father, who told her through an interpreter that he was living in Iran.


Kashmir shuts down over India’s ‘muscular policy’

Updated 11 min 10 sec ago
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Kashmir shuts down over India’s ‘muscular policy’

  • Activists angry over detention of rebel leader, suspension of border trade with Pakistan
  • Analysts said the arrest of activists was an attempt to sanitize the valley before polling day

NEW DELHI: Indian-controlled Kashmir observed a shutdown Tuesday over the alleged ill-treatment of a separatist leader and the suspension of border trade with Pakistan.

Yasin Malik, chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), was taken into custody as part of a major crackdown following a February attack in Pulwama that killed dozens of Indian security personnel.

India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim it in its entirety. Rebels have been fighting Indian rule since 1989, demanding Indian-controlled Kashmir be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country. The Pulwama attack brought both nations to the brink of war and tensions have been running high since.

Tuesday’s strike, called by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), saw the shutdown of all shops, businesses and traffic in protest at his detention and ill-treatment.

There is also anger that border trade with Pakistan has been suspended after the Indian government said that many of those trading across the Line of Control, which divides Kashmir into zones under Indian and Pakistani administration, had links to militant organizations.

“News about Yasin Malik being seriously ill and being shifted to a hospital in New Delhi is very disturbing,” JRL member Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told Arab News.

“The people of Kashmir are concerned about his safety and well-being. It’s sad that even his family and his lawyer are not allowed to meet him. It’s the responsibility of the state, under whose detention he is in, to ensure his well-being. It is unfortunate that the state is dealing with the political issue of Kashmir with muscular and military policy alone. This will not yield anything apart from more anger and alienation on the ground. Look at the elections. The dismal turnout proves how disenchanted and alienated common masses feel today,” said Farooq, referring to the low turnout of Kashmir voters in India’s mammoth general election.

Analysts said the arrest of activists was an attempt to sanitize the valley before polling day.

India has had three phases in its election and participation in Kashmir has been poor, with some suggesting a turnout of 15 percent compared to 34 percent in 2014.

The JRL said the shutdown was also a condemnation of the alleged “ongoing aggression of central investigation agencies against Kashmiri leaders, activists, senior businessmen, trade union leaders, kith and kin of resistance leaders and other people belonging to different walks of life.”

Its statement called the closure of the national highway for two days a week “undemocratic ... and a gross human rights violation.”

The JRL slammed the suspension of border trade and said it was putting “the lives and economy of thousands into jeopardy.”

Srinagar-based rights activists Parvez Imroz said what was happening in Kashmir amounted to political and economic repression.

“By suspending trade at the border many lives are at stake,” he told Arab News. “People who have invested heavily in business are staring at an uncertain future. The government is not leaving any breathing space for the people of Kashmir.”

He added that, despite the Indian government’s tactics and firepower, people had not been motivated to cast their vote.

“Kashmir is not a democracy but an occupation. How can you expect people to respond when New Delhi behaves like a colonial power?”

But the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said separatists had no right to question the government about the treatment of Kashmiri leaders.

“The separatist leaders never treated their own people well. They always tortured people who defied them. How come they expect good treatment at the hands of the Indian government?” Hina Bhat, a BJP leader in Srinagar, told Arab News.

She defended the ban on border trade, saying it could not continue unless the relationship between India and Pakistan normalized. She also put a positive spin on polling day, saying it was a success because it was “casualty-free.”

“No doubt people have some grudges and they are not happy with the previous government, but there is no need for disappointment as poll rates in other parts of the state have been good,” she added.