The body of 14-year-old Susanna Feldman was found in a wooded area near Wiesbaden in Germany on Wednesday. She had been missing for a month. An autopsy showed that she was also the victim of a violent sexual attack. German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said Saturday that 20-year-old Ali Bashar, an Iraqi Kurd, had confessed to her murder during interrogation by Kurdish authorities, according to a report from Reuters. The suspect lived in the refugee center near where Feldman’s body was found.
Susanna Feldman was a Jewish teenager from Mainz, Germany, but authorities say there is no indication that the Iraqi suspect was motivated by her religion and advised against classifying the crime as anti-Semitic. Dohuk City Police Chief Tariq Ahmed explained that seven hours after he ordered three officers to investigate Feldman’s murder, those officers contacted him from Zahko (a region in Iraq) and told him that they “had located the suspect and would arrest him as soon as he comes to the city.”
The Telegraph reports that Ali flew back to Iraq under a different name with his family after Susanna went missing. Ahmed added that Bashar had been staying at a Dohuk hotel, but had moved to a relative’s home in Kahko when he learned that police were looking for him. When he arrived in Zahko, police took him into custody at about 5:30 a.m. on Friday. He was expected to be extradited to Germany on Saturday and questioned by German authorities on Sunday. German media reports that Ali Bashar had been living as a refugee since 2015.
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Ahmed described how Feldman and Bashar knew each other.
“The girl was a friend of his. They went on a trip to the woods and there they consumed a lot of alcohol and drugs then got into a dispute and the girl tried to call the police. The suspect became afraid because she was under 18 and he knew if the police came it would be a major charge.”
The murder of Susanna Feldman has sparked discussion about immigration among Germans. Chancellor Angela Merkel has been criticized for allowing large numbers of refugees into Germany during the European immigration crisis of 2015. Many politicians have been calling for new laws that makes deportation an easier process. Merkel used the announcement of Bashar’s arrest to highlight the need for Germans to make a conscious effort to integrate refugees in society.
“This is a reminder to all of us, first, to take the task of integration very seriously, to make our common values very clear, again and again. But also to punish any crime. We can only live together if we all stick to our laws.”