Iraqi charged with rape, murder in Germany’s ‘Susanna case’

The accused in the ‘Susanna case’, 21-year-old Ali Bashar, center, had fled Germany after the crime for Iraq but was extradited in a mission joined personally by federal police chief Dieter Romann. (Reuters)
Updated 23 January 2019
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Iraqi charged with rape, murder in Germany’s ‘Susanna case’

  • Following a public outcry over Susanna’s death, German federal police hauled Bashar back from Irbil, northern Iraq, where he had been arrested by local Kurdish security forces
  • Despite the absence of a formal extradition treaty between Iraq and Germany, Bashar was put on a flight to Germany, with pictures of him disembarking under heavy police guard making front pages

BERLIN: German prosecutors Wednesday announced child rape and murder charges against a rejected Iraqi asylum-seeker in a case that fueled a heated debate about immigrant crime.
The accused in the “Susanna case,” 21-year-old Ali Bashar, had fled Germany after the crime for northern Iraq but was extradited in a mission joined personally by federal police chief Dieter Romann.
Bashar is accused of beating, raping and then strangling to death schoolgirl Susanna Maria Feldman, 14, in a wooded area near his refugee shelter in the city of Wiesbaden last May 23.
Earlier he had also allegedly twice raped an 11-year-old girl — once in April 2018 after locking her in his room, and again near a supermarket carpark the following month.
Prosecutors also laid charges against an Afghan youth who was living in the same refugee shelter, Mansoor Q., who was believed to be aged at least 14 at the time, for also raping the 11-year-old girl.
Prosecutors said Ali Bashar’s younger brother — who is believed to be in Iraq, according to media reports — had also taken part in a violent sexual assault against the younger girl.
Following a public outcry over Susanna’s death, German federal police hauled Bashar back from Irbil, northern Iraq, where he had been arrested by local Kurdish security forces.
Despite the absence of a formal extradition treaty between Iraq and Germany, Bashar was put on a flight to Germany, with pictures of him disembarking under heavy police guard making front pages.
Bashar had first arrived in Germany in 2015 along with his parents and five siblings.
He faced deportation after his request for asylum was rejected in December 2016, but he obtained a temporary residence permit pending his appeal.
During this time, he got into trouble with police on several occasions, including for fights, alleged robbery and possession of an illegal switchblade.
In his upcoming trial he also faces charges for a park robbery in which he beat, strangled and threatened with a knife a man to steal his watch, bag, phone and bank card.
The Susanna case prompted politicians including Chancellor Angela Merkel to urge the speeding up of deportations of asylum-seekers who have broken the law in Germany.


Major emperor penguin breeding ground gone barren since 2016

Updated 2 min 15 sec ago
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Major emperor penguin breeding ground gone barren since 2016

  • Usually 15,000 to 24,000 breeding pairs of emperor penguins flock yearly to a breeding site at Halley Bay
  • The place is considered a safe place that should stay cold this century despite global warming
WASHINGTON: For the past three years, virtually nothing has hatched at Antarctica’s second biggest breeding grounds for emperor penguins and the start of this year is looking just as bleak, a new study found.
Usually 15,000 to 24,000 breeding pairs of emperor penguins flock yearly to a breeding site at Halley Bay, considered a safe place that should stay cold this century despite global warming. But almost none have been there since 2016, according to a study in Wednesday’s Antarctic Science.
The breeding pair population has increased significantly at a nearby breeding ground, but the study’s author said it is nowhere near the amount missing at Halley Bay.
“We’ve never seen a breeding failure on a scale like this in 60 years,” said study author Phil Trathan, head of conservation biology at the British Antarctic Survey. “It’s unusual to have a complete breeding failure in such a big colony.”
Normally about 8% of the world’s emperor penguin population breeds at Halley Bay, Trathan said.
Black-and-white with yellow ears and breasts, emperor penguins are the largest penguin species, weighing up to 88 pounds (40 kilograms) and living about 20 years. Pairs breed in the harshest winter conditions with the male incubating their egg.
Scientists blame the sharp decline on climate and weather conditions that break apart the “fast ice” — sea ice that’s connected to the land — where the emperor penguins stay to breed. They incubate their eggs and tend to their chicks — one per pair — on ice. After breeding and tending to the chicks, the penguins move to open sea.
In 2016 and 2017, there was no breeding in Halley Bay and last year there was just a bit, the study found.
The nearby Dawson-Lambton breeding area, which had been home to a couple thousand pairs, increased to 11,117 pairs in 2017 and 14,612 pairs in 2018, the study said.
While that’s encouraging, it doesn’t make up for all that was lost at Halley Bay, Trathan said. “Not everybody has gone to Dawson Lambton yet,” he said.
What’s troubling isn’t that part of the colony has moved to Dawson-Lambton, it is that scientists thought of Halley Bay as a climate change refuge in one of the coldest areas of the continent “where in the future you expect to always have emperors,” Trathan said.
David Ainley, a marine ecologist and penguin expert at the consulting firm H.T. Harvey & Associates, worried that some people will be more alarmed than they need to be because many of the penguins didn’t disappear, but just moved. While not as scary as it may sound initially, with climate change “long term, it’s another question as alternate breeding sites likely will become harder to find,” said Ainley, who was not part of the study.
The study makes sense, and sometimes dramatic environmental change can cause a breeding failure like this, said Stephanie Jenouvrier, a penguin expert at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who wasn’t part of the study.
Trathan said a super strong El Nino — a natural cyclical warming of the central Pacific that changes weather worldwide — melted sea ice more than usual and exposed the fast ice to wind and waves, making the breeding home less stable. He said it’s not possible to say yet if human-caused warming — from fossil fuel burning that creates heat-trapping gases globally — is a factor.
A 2014 study by Jenouvrier projected that because of climate change the global population of emperor penguins will likely fall by at least 19% by the year 2100.
The breeding colony failure, Trathan said, “is a warning of things that might become important in the future.”
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Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter: @borenbears .
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