BERLIN • A failed Iraqi asylum seeker suspected of raping and murdering a teenage girl in Germany was arrested in Iraq overnight, the German authorities said yesterday, after his escape sparked outrage and raised questions over immigration and police failings.
Ali Bashar, 20, who is believed to have strangled 14-year-old Susanna Maria Feldman after sexually assaulting her, was "arrested by the Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq at the request of German federal police", said German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.
The arrest came after an outcry in Germany as police hunting the fugitive after the girl's body was found on Wednesday admitted that Bashar had fled with his family.
They managed to fly out of Duesseldorf airport even though the names on their identity documents did not match those on their airline tickets, said police, adding that their identities were checked only against the photos on the papers.
Bashar also turned out to have chalked up a long police record in less than three years in Germany and should have been expelled months ago. "The government should beg for forgiveness from Susanna's parents," said the top-selling daily Bild. "The only thing that is worse than the murder of a child is the murder of a child by a criminal who should not have been in our country."
Newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said: "It is time to wonder how far the credibility of the government is being undermined when it is surrounded by so many absurdities."
Revealing that Susanna and her mother were members of the Jewish community, the Central Council of Jews in Germany urged a "swift and comprehensive" probe into the case as well as tough consequences for the perpetrator.
The case puts renewed pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel's government over the decision to open Germany's borders at the height of Europe's refugee crisis in 2015, which led to the arrival of more than a million asylum seekers over two years.