Three asylum seekers who are suspected of setting an asylum centre on fire in the German town of Hövelhof-Staumühle in January are now on trial for arson.
The trio of asylum seekers, aged between 20 and 26, are said to have been “frustrated” with their accommodation at the asylum home which was converted from a former military barracks. They are said to have made threats to the workers at the home the day before claiming that if they didn’t have their demands fulfilled there would be a “massacre” Tag 24 reports.
Among their demands was to be moved to a different facility and they told the workers that they had been in conflict with other asylum seekers who came from Albania.
The prosecution states that two of the men, who are also brothers, smashed up the furniture in one of the rooms and then proceeded to light it on fire. The two brothers say that they did smash the furniture but left the room and only returned to discover the fire. The third defendant has refused to testify in the case.
As a result of the blaze which led to severe damages to the asylum home, 57 residents were injured. Of those injured 27 were immediately released while 30 others were taken to the hospital, one with serious injuries.
Thr asylum home was specifically set up for migrants from the Balkan region who were unlikely to receive an approved asylum claim. Though the home has space for around 900 migrants, only 500 were living at the facility at the time of the fire.
Several asylum homes across Germany have a similar issue in that they have space for many more migrants than they actually house. In some cases, it means the average cost of housing the migrants has soared because the homes expected full capacity and are locked into long contracts to feed, clothe and provide security. In one town 21 asylum seekers were costing the local government 500,000 euros per month.
Migrants setting their own accommodation on fire is also not uncommon. In Dusseldorf, a migrant set a massive fire at the city’s exhibition centre because he was angry about not being woken up for breakfast during Ramadan last year.
Two migrants in Gößweinstein in Upper Franconia also set fire to their asylum home, though the act was thought to be caused by negligence. Two Syrian asylum seekers were smoking a hookah water pipe which uses coals that are thought to have caused the blaze which caused 100,000 euros worth of damage.