German prosectors have filed charges against a man accused of setting fire to an asylum seekers’ center in the early 1990s, they announced on Wednesday.
The German federal prosecutor’s office had filed charges against the man, identified only as Peter S, which included murder, attempted murder and arson.
The charges come more than three decades after a fire at a shelter in the German city of Saarlouis, amid a series of attacks in the early 1990s.
What is the suspect accused of?
Investigators say the suspect entered the shelter in the town of Saarlouis, close to the French border, in the early morning of September 19, 1991.
They say he doused the stairwell there with gasoline before setting it on fire.
A 27-year-old Ghanaian man, Samuel Yeboah, who was engulfed in the flames from his injuries. Two other residents had to jump out a window to escape the fire and suffered bone fractures.
According to the statement, the suspect had met “extremist comrades” at a cafe in the eastern town of Hoyerswerda.
Last year, authorities in Saarlouis said there were “significant indications” that a far-right crime had taken place.
Why is the man only being charged now?
Investigation by state police in Saarland stalled after no perpetrator could be identified.
The German Attorney General has taken over the case due to new information. The man, who was known to the police, was arrested in early April and has been detained ever since, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
Samuel Yeboah died of his injuries on the day of the attack
The chairman of the Saarland state police spoke after the arrest and apologized “for the fact that, of course, shortcomings in police work at the time also led to the cessation of the investigations.”
In August 2020, he had formed a working group to investigate the handling of the case at the time.
The incident took place amid xenophobic riots in the city that culminated in the evacuation of Vietnamese and Mozambican guest workers.
Then in 1992 there were also riots in the northern city of Rostock and in 1993 another fatal arson attack in the west German city of Solingen.
rc/aw (dpa, epd, TBEN, Reuters)