Asylum Seekers on Trial for Setting Homeless Man on Fire

Magnus Manske/Wikimedia Commons

Six young asylum seekers who tried to light a homeless man on fire in a Berlin subway station on Christmas day face trial for attempted murder.

The six asylum seekers, aged between 16 and 21, approached the homeless man on Christmas day as he was sleeping on a bench at the Schönleinstrasse in the Kreuzberg district in Berlin. Several of the migrants then lit flammable objects around his head while he slept and are now facing attempted murder charges, Die Welt reports.

The Berlin prosecutor said: “The accused should have recognised and accepted the fact that the sleeping victim could have been burned through an unrestrained spreading of the fire.” He noted all of the migrants could face several years in prison. One of the migrants, a 17-year-old, claimed he wasn’t involved in setting the fires but could be held liable for not helping to put them out.

The homeless man was uninjured as the fires were put out by several witnesses to the attack. The asylum seekers were mostly from Syria and arrived in Germany during the migrant crisis between 2014 and 2016.

Police were able to identify and arrest the migrants after examining CCTV footage. The eldest asylum seeker, a 21-year-old, was identified as the ringleader.

A separate attack on the Berlin subway also outraged the German public in early December when CCTV footage from late October was made public that showed a woman being kicked down the stairs at the Hermannstrasse subway station. The attacker, a 27-year-old Bulgarian national, was arrested several days later.

Berlin police also sought to prosecute the leaker of the CCTV footage with the State Office of Criminal Investigations saying the leak violated the Data Privacy Act.

One station in particular in Berlin, the Kotbusser Tor, has become synonymous with theft and drug dealing. The station, popular due to its proximity to bars and clubs, has seen a rise in criminality as young migrants have come in to deal drugs or pick-pocket bar goers.

A recent report by Berlin authorities has revealed that migrant crime has increased significantly over the course of the migrant crisis. The Berlin Senate has announced they will be investigating why migrant crime rates are so high in the city.

According to the report, some 13 per cent of migrants in the city have been suspected of at least one crime. The percentage of Germans suspected of crimes is around three per cent.

 Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at


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