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Afghan Asylum Seeker Who Stabbed Three in Germany Has ‘Psychiatric Illness’, May Be Found Not Culpable

Police cordon off the area around a supermarket in the northern German city of Hamburg, where a man killed one person and wounded several others in a knife attack, on July 28, 2017. 'There is no valid information yet on the motive or the number of people injured' by the …
MARKUS SCHOLZ/AFP/Getty Images
VICTORIA FRIEDMAN

A 21-year-old Afghan asylum seeker who stabbed three in Ravensburg town centre has been taken to a psychiatric facility, with officials saying he may not be found culpable for his actions due to mental illness.

The asylum seeker, originally thought to have been 19, was detained on Friday after the knife attack but under a “housing warrant” rather than an arrest warrant, and was taken to a psychiatric facility, Die Welt reports.

Assessors told police the Afghan suffers from what the German daily reported as a “profound psychiatric illness” and has been an in-patient at mental health facilities several times.

The assessors also estimate that his diminished responsibility will mean that his liability for guilt for the stabbing attack is either reduced or could be completely ruled out.

According to the public prosecutor’s office, the defendant, who has been in Germany since 2016, had invited a work colleague to Marienplatz to confront him over alleged teasing, taking a large kitchen knife with him in the morning to the town centre.

When his colleague did not come, the man “suddenly and as part of a psychotic experience” stabbed two Syrian asylum seekers, according to attorney Karl-Josef Diehl.

He then attacked, but failed to injure, another man before stabbing a 52-year-old German who had tried to subdue him with a chair outside a restaurant before he laid down his bloodied knife at the request of the town’s mayor, Daniel Rapp, who was nearby at the time of the incident.

In the immediate aftermath, the state minister for integration for Baden-Wuerttemberg Manne Lucha appealed to citizens to “stand together now” and to not be “divided by people who would abuse this terrible act for political purposes by spewing hatred and malice on all of us who stand up for unity in this city”.

This is not the first time that an attack or violent crime committed by a migrant in Germany has been attributed to mental illness.

In July 2017, police blamed mental illness for a knife attack by a failed asylum seeker from the Palestinian territories who stabbed to death one and injured six others at a Hamburg supermarket. The man had screamed “Allahu Akbar” during the attack and told police that he wanted to be a terrorist.

In the same year in Norway, an asylum seeker from Somalia received a lighter sentence for raping a woman in the garage at Oslo airport because he had a documented mental illness — but not before he was assessed by a psychiatrist immediately after the arrest to see if he were also “psychotic” and was monitored for a further four days before being deemed “normal” by one therapist.

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