An 85-year-old pensioner from the eastern German town of Wittenburg in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania was killed in his bed; his throat was cut by an object thought to be a large knife. The suspect, who was arrested shortly after the murder, is an 20-year-old Afghan migrant who was hired to tend the victim’s garden and take care of his house.
The murder victim, Dietrich P., was well-known and respected in the town, the local outlet Ostsee Zeitung reports. A Bosnian man who looked after him and lived in the house witnessed his last minutes via a baby monitor. However, he didn’t suspect something was wrong; he thought that the young man was attempting to tuck in Dietrich’s blanket. The care-giver only suspected foul play when the dying man gasped.
The alleged perpetrator fled the scene but was detained some time later, some 60 kilometres away at the state border. Passers-by noticed the thinly-clothed Afghan collecting bottles and called the police. However, they did not apparently know about the search, so he was admitted to a hospital for hypothermia. As he didn’t have any documents on him, paramedics later called the police, hoping to identify him. The man was detained after his fingerprints matched those in the police database.
The suspect, who is registered in Saxony, was sent to the household by the deceased man’s daughter. She met the Afghan at a refugee centre where she volunteered. His plea for asylum was rejected, and his permit to reside in the country expires in January 2019.
An investigation is underway; however, the motive for the gruesome act remains unclear, the prosecutor’s office says, as cited by RTL Online. Following the murder, some 70 people gathered in Wittenburg for a commemorative ceremony, brought together by local activists from the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party.
The AfD group in the local parliament had demanded to discuss the crime. The group's leader Nikolaus Kramer has called on fellow politicians to put discussing the murder on their agenda and not to downplay it as an "isolated case". The party also called for a vigil in front of the victim’s house. A member of the right-wing National Democratic Party’s local branch Udo Pastörs and several others lit candles in front of the victim’s house but were dispersed immediately afterwards because they hadn't obtained permission to demonstrate.
Meanwhile, the Social Democrat town mayor Margret Seemann slammed attempts from outside “to mould the mood," according to Ostsee Zeitung.
"My big hope is that the Wittenburgers are resistant enough," she said.
The outlet reports that this has prompted fears of a repetition of the unrest seen in Chemnitz, which began in late August after a German man was allegedly stabbed to death by an Iraqi and a Syrian. Right-wing rallies and rival protests continued into September, drawing international attention.