An Iraqi migrant suspected of the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in western Germany was arrested by Kurdish forces in Iraq one day after German police issued an international warrant for his arrest.
Ali Bashar, a 20-year-old asylum-seeker, was captured by security forces at the airport in Irbil, northern Iraq, a top senior security official in the Kurdistan Regional Government [KRG] told CNN on Friday. He had fled from Germany to Iraq via Istanbul with his family on June 2.
The arrest was made following close cooperation and coordination with the German consulate in the Kurdistan region, said Dindar Zebari.
“I thank the participating Kurdish security forces for making the arrest possible,” German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said Friday.
Susanna Maria Feldman, a resident in the western German city of Wiesbaden, was reported missing by her mother on May 23.
By the time the police opened an investigation, Bashar and seven other family members – all of whom lived in a refugee center in Wiesbaden – had fled using identification papers that German authorities failed to identify as suspect. The plane tickets contained different names from those given on the residence documents for Bashar and his family, officials said.
Bashar was first linked with the case after a 13-year-old refugee told police in Wiesbaden on Sunday that the Iraqi man had raped and killed Feldman.
The teenager’s body was found by police Wednesday close to a railway track in the Erbenheim area of Wiesbaden. Prosecutor Achim Thoma said that strangulation was the cause of death.
Bashar arrived in Germany in October 2015 and moved to Wiesbaden with his parents and siblings in April the following year, according to police. Bashar’s asylum claim was rejected in December 2017. He is currently appealing that decision.
According to authorities, he had been involved in several incidents of low-level violence and is a suspect in the rape of an 11-year-old girl in March this year, but there had been no reason to arrest Bashar before the Feldman case.
A second suspect, a 35-year-old Turkish citizen, was arrested at his home in Wiesbaden Wednesday evening but has since been released and is no longer suspected of involvement.
Sophie Rebmann and Nadine Schmidt reported from Berlin. Judith Vonberg wrote from London. Hamdi Alkhshali in Atlanta and Muwafaq Mohammed in Irbil contributed to this report.