German police have issued an international arrest warrant for an Iraqi asylum-seeker suspected of the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in western Germany, the prosecutor's office said Thursday.
Ali Bashar, 20, who was previously known to police, fled to Iraq via Istanbul on June 2, according to officials. A second suspect, a 35-year-old Turkish citizen, is in custody.
In a press conference in Wiesbaden on Thursday, officials said the victim, Susanna Maria Feldman, was reported missing by her mother on May 23 after she had gone out with her friends the previous evening. The police did not initially investigate it as a crime because the teenager was often truant.
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 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. 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, authorities said, but there had been no reason to arrest Bashar before the Feldman case.
The second suspect, a Turkish national who arrived in Germany in May 2017 and later filed an asylum claim, was arrested at his home in Wiesbaden-Erbenheim Wednesday evening.
'Nothing worse in the world'
Her mother, Diana Feldman, used Facebook to post updates about her daughter's disappearance. "There is nothing worse for a mother in the world than not to know where her child is," she wrote on May 25, two days after the teenager went missing.
On June 1, in the absence of any news, she posted an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel from the Feldman family, imploring her to help.
According to the Central Council of Jews, Susanna Feldman was a member of the Jewish community in the nearby city of Mainz. The council learned of the news "with deep dismay," it said in a statement, but warned against speculation about the motive.
The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) quickly laid the blame at Merkel's door, criticizing her decision to allow more than a million migrants and refugees to enter the country in 2015. "Are you still sleeping well, Mrs. Merkel?" the party wrote on Facebook.
The AfD won 91 seats in Germany's federal election last September and became the official opposition party in parliament after running on an anti-refugee, anti-Islam platform.