Trial starts in case of teen accused of attempted murder of girlfriend

A 17-year-old knife attacker goes on trial in Darmstadt for the Christmas-time attempted murder of his ex-girlfriend - the one of several such attacks recently.

Trial starts in case of teen accused of attempted murder of girlfriend
Boris Roessler/ DPA

A 17-year-old Afghani refugee has gone on trial in Darmstadt for the December 2017 stabbing of his ex-girlfriend. The stabbing was one of a number to have taken place over the past few years involving teenage refugee perpetrators, leading to fresh concerns about Germany’s ability to integrate its new arrivals – along with the potential for revenge attacks. 

During the opening day of the trial, the court heard that the couple had separated only days earlier, with the perpetrator asking the victim – named only as ‘Ahlam’ in the court proceedings – to meet for “one last hug”.

They met close to her apartment, where she was stabbed ten times in the chest, causing injury to her lungs with the knife only narrowly missing her heart. The court heard that the perpetrator did not have a known history of violence and that the victim “had no idea she was in danger” at the time of the stabbing.

The perpetrator fled immediately after the attack, with the prosecution alleging that he assumed the victim would die of her injuries. She was later found by a passerby and rushed to hospital where she received emergency surgery and survived. 

Unusual for a case concerning a perpetrator under 18, the media were allowed into the courtroom. The judge cited public interest as the reason for relaxing the normally rigid rule. 

The crime took place just two days before Christmas, but it wasn’t the timing or the nature of the attack that dominated the headlines. Instead it was the background of the attacker, who had arrived in Germany in 2015 as an unaccompanied asylum seeker from Afghanistan. The accused was 16-years-old at the time of the attack and his name has not been released. 

As reported by The Local in March this year, this was one of many similar attacks to take place across the country recently. 

Another strikingly similar attack took place just days later in Kandel, where a 15-year-old Afghani refugee stabbed his ex-girlfriend to death in a grocery store. The pair had separated just weeks earlier, with the girl's parents contacting the police on a number of occasions. 

Far-right groups seized upon the latter attack as evidence of Germany’s inability to integrate refugees and the purported failings of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policies. 

A documentary aired on ARD called 'The Girl and the Refugee' aired in early June 2018 covering the attacks claimed that Afghani cultural practices may be to blame. The documentary makers travelled to Afghanistan where they were told of a local interpretation of the Quran which states that women who leave men “must be killed”. 

Despite some comment from the CSU and other conservative parties, the far-right Alternativ Für Deutschland (AfD) party had been notably silent in the wake of the attack and since the beginning of the trial – possibly as the victim of the Darmstadt attack, unlike in Kandel, was not German born. 

Reports of crimes involving asylum seekers are up in Germany across the past two years, although criminologists are quick to point out that crimes involving immigrants are twice as likely to be reported.

The tension has also led to revenge attacks. In February a 70-year-old pensioner stabbed three refugees while intoxicated outside a church in Heilbronn in south-western Germany, which the mayor condemned as a “racist attack”.  

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The trial continues on Monday.

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