Iraqi man faces verdict in trial for rape, murder of Jewish teen in Germany
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Iraqi man faces verdict in trial for rape, murder of Jewish teen in Germany

Suspect faces a likely sentence of life in prison if found guilty of assault and killing of 14-year-old Susanna Maria Feldman in Wiesbaden, in case seized upon by far right

Roses cover the photo of the 14-year-old Susanna Maria Feldman killed in Wiesbaden, Germany, Friday, June 8, 2018 (Boris Roessler/dpa via AP)
Roses cover the photo of the 14-year-old Susanna Maria Feldman killed in Wiesbaden, Germany, Friday, June 8, 2018 (Boris Roessler/dpa via AP)

WIESBADEN, Germany — An Iraqi man faces his verdict in Germany Wednesday over the rape and murder of a teenage girl that fueled far-right protests against a mass influx of mostly Muslim migrants.

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and other extremists have seized on the brutal killing of 14-year-old Susanna Maria Feldman in their campaign against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s asylum policy.

The accused, rejected asylum seeker Ali Bashar, 22, faces his verdict in a hearing Wednesday starting at 9:30 a.m. in a heavily guarded court in Wiesbaden, the city where the murder took place in May last year.

If found guilty, Bashar faces a likely sentence of life in prison, and could be kept behind bars beyond the usual maximum 15 years if judge Juergen Bonk finds the crime to be of exceptional severity.

Susanna Feldman, 14, a German Jewish schoolgirl, whose body was found buried on the outskirts of the western German city of Wiesbaden on June 6, 2018 (via Facebook)

Prosecutors charge that Bashar battered, raped and strangled the Jewish schoolgirl to death in a wooded area near railway tracks on May 23.

He then allegedly sent false messages from Susanna’s smartphone indicating she had left for an impromptu trip to Paris.

Her body was only found on June 6 in a shallow grave covered with leaves, twigs and soil.

By this time, Bashar and his family had left Germany and returned to Arbil in northern Iraq.

The accused was however arrested by Kurdish security forces and, even though Berlin and Baghdad have no formal extradition treaty, taken back to Germany.

Incapable of empathy

Federal police chief Dieter Romann personally joined the controversial operation, as newspaper front pages showed pictures of commandos escorting a heavily restrained Bashar off an aircraft.

Police officers of a special unit escort Iraqi asylum seeker Ali Bashar, who is suspected of having killed a German teenage girl, to a helicopter in Wiesbaden, western Germany, on June 10, 2018, heading to a prison after Bashar testified. (AFP / dpa / Hasan BRATIC)

Bashar later confessed the killing but denied the rape, claiming that he and the girl had consensual sex before she fell, got angry and threatened to call the police.

In a separate trial, Bashar is accused of twice raping an 11-year-old girl, who was believed to have also been sexually assaulted by an Afghan youth.

Defendant Ali B hides his face as he sits next to his lawyer Marcus Steffel as they wait for the continuation of his trial on July 2, 2019 at court in Wiesbaden, western Germany (Boris Roessler / POOL / AFP)

The Bashar case put renewed pressure on Merkel’s government over the decision to keep open German borders at the height of Europe’s refugee crisis.

The far-right has voiced fury about cases of sexual violence committed by those migrants and other foreigners — including mass assaults in Cologne on New Year’s Eve 2015-16, and, in April this year, the alleged gang rape by eight Bulgarian teens of a 13-year-old girl.

This search photo provided by Wiesbaden, western Germany, police shows 20-year-old Iraqi Ali Basar who is suspected of raping and killing a 14-year-old girl. (Polizei Wiesbaden via AP)

Bashar, his parents and siblings arrived in Germany in 2015, at the peak of the influx that would bring more than a million asylum seekers, mostly from the Middle East and Africa.

His asylum request was rejected in late 2016, but he obtained a temporary residence permit pending his appeal.

During this time, he came to police attention for fights, alleged robbery and possession of an illegal switchblade.

Susanna’s mother, dressed in black during the almost four-month-long trial, broke down in tears as the court heard the harrowing details of the crime.

Bashar by contrast appeared composed during the trial, in which a psychiatrist testified the accused has a personality disorder and is incapable of empathy.

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