Saturday 10/16/21
GERMANY

Bavarian minister: Islamist motive possible in Wuerzburg stabbing

When the suspect's accommodation was searched, a number of items were found that could refer to Islamist propaganda material, and the suspect himself had spoken of his 'contribution to the Jihad'
26 June 2021, Bavaria, Wuerzburg: Candles and flowers are placed in front of a closed and cordoned off department store in downtown Wuerzburg, where a fatal knife attack took place last night leaving three people dead and seven injured. Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa
Candles and flowers in front of a cordoned off department store in Wuerzburg, where a fatal knife attack took place. Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa.

The Bavarian interior minister said Sunday the man accused of launching a deadly knife attack in the southern German city of Wuerzburg could have had an Islamist motive.

"In view of what we have found, there is a lot to suggest that it could be an Islamist-motivated act," Joachim Herrmann said Sunday evening on a live talk show from tabloid newspaper Bild.

When the suspect's accommodation was searched, a number of items were found that could refer to Islamist propaganda material, and the suspect himself had spoken of his "contribution to the Jihad," Herrmann said.

But further investigations are still ongoing, including the evaluation of two cell phones.

Herrmann also suggested it would be "wise" to review refugee law after the German elections later this year, and consider under what circumstances a protective status could be cancelled.

The suspect is Somalian and has subsidiary protection status, meaning he is legally in Germany.

He is in prison in Wuerzburg - facing charges for triple murder, attempted murder and dangerous bodily harm in six other cases and intentional bodily harm in one other case.

Most victims women

The 24-year-old is alleged to have killed three women in the city centre on Friday. In addition, according to the police, he critically injured three other women, a girl and a youth with a knife, and slightly injured a man and another woman.

His public defender thinks it is possible that his client could harm himself while in pretrial detention.

"What I notice is that he is in obvious psychological distress," lawyer Hanjo Schrepfer said.

Investigators also apparently see this danger: "The prison in charge has been informed about possible self-endangerment," said a spokesperson for the State Criminal Police Office in Munich.

He did not know what precautions had been taken there.

Schrepfer says he is now waiting to see the files. "I need the investigation files as soon as possible." In custody cases, it usually takes seven to 10 days. "I need the witness statements."

Before that, he said, there was little point in talking to his client about what had happened.

Hate messages

It's still unclear two days after the attack to what extent the man's mental state played and whether he specifically wanted to kill women.

Investigators found material containing hate messages in the homeless shelter where the suspect lived. It was seized but the documents, along with cell phone messages, must be translated for evaluation.

Bells rang for several minutes during a memorial service on Sunday at the Wuerzburg Cathedral attended by the victims' relatives as well as political leaders and representatives from civic organizations.

Helmuth Andrew, a waiter at a wine bar next to the scene of the crime at Barbarossaplatz, recalled how he had tried to corral the attacker with a chair, along with several other people. The man, who was barefoot, had stared at people without any expression, he said.

Videos of the scene were circulating on social media.

Andrew had continued working after the incident. "We still had guests and were busy," he recalled. "It brought tears to my eyes at one point - thinking about the fact that three people died there."

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