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North African Migrants on Trial for Burning Asylum Centre in Ramadan Rage

Two asylum seekers have gone on trial in Germany, accused of arson and causing injury, after allegedly burning down a significant migrant facility because food was being served during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The massive fire almost completely destroyed the asylum home in Messe, Düsseldorf, leaving 28 migrants suffering smoke poisoning and causing around €10 million (£8.8 million) worth of damage, Krone Zeitung reports.

An Algerian migrant is said to have set the fire whilst being encouraged by a Moroccan, who was the leader of a group the Algerian was a member of. Both were arrested shortly after the fire on June 7th last year.

According to the criminal indictment, reported by RP-Online, the Algerian had become angered by the fact food and drink were being served at the centre, one day after the beginning of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

After an argument broke out over the issue of lunch, the man decided to light the fire, pouring a bottle of vodka over bedding so the flames spread quickly.

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Fire department spokesmen described the 5,000-sq-ft exhibition hall, normally used for storage for exhibitors, as a “total loss” / Getty / DPA

Originally, the pair were going to be charged with causing serious injury, which could have seen them jailed for 15 years. However, the charges have been downgraded because there was no serious injuries or deaths, and the defendants are not likely to receive more than two years’ imprisonment.

Before the trial had even begun, authorities made it clear they would be attempting to deport the two men if convicted.

The German government has insisted criminal offenders from North Africa are top priority for deportation. However, earlier this month it was reported that just 368 of 8,363 rejected asylum seekers from North Africa were deported in 2016.

The asylum home near Düsseldorf was a converted exhibition hall and many of the migrants there were from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. It was exclusively for men travelling alone and the city had deliberately moved migrants there who were considered socially difficult.

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