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German minister apologizes for mistakenly imprisoning Syrian who died after jail fire

Syrian Refugees | 2018-10-05 21:05:00
German minister apologizes for mistakenly imprisoning Syrian who died after jail fire
A German state official apologized Friday for an incident of mistaken identity that left a Syrian man imprisoned and then dead.

In July, the 26-year-old man was arrested for failing to pay a fine for theft. But police officers did not thoroughly check his identity, said Herbert Reul, interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia state in western Germany, according to the Associated Press.

The Syrian man — whose name was not released — bore little resemblance to a man from Mali, who was being sought by police for the fine. But the Malian man had used a pseudonym, so the two had the same name.

In September, a fire broke out in the jail where the Syrian man was being held. Ten inmates suffered from smoke inhalation, and the Syrian received severe burns, according to German news agency DPA. He died two weeks later.

Reul offered an apology to the man's family and said, "We must do everything so that a case like this is not repeated."

The incident sparked a wave of anger and resentment among the Syrian refugees in Germany who expressed their concerns via social media.
 
The 'oral' apology of Reul to the family of the Syrian victim seemed a similar to the Syrian intelligence apology when detainees arrested and tortured., activists say 




Der Spiegel reported that the public prosecutor's office in the town of Kleve began an investigation of how officers came to arrest the Syrian.

State Justice Minister Peter Biesenbach told the media, "We have to ask ourselves critically what went wrong, because what's certain is that something did go wrong."

Germany was once a champion for Syrian asylum-seekers. Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed thousands in 2015. After a widespread outcry, the government tightened its borders and policies.

In June, Germany became the first country to take legal action against a Syrian official for crimes against humanity during Syria's civil war, according to Deutsche Welle.

(With NPR)

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