Iraqi man gets life in jail for rape, murder of Jewish teen in Germany

Judge says assault, murder of 14-year-old Susanna Maria Feldman is of exceptional severity and Ali Bashar showed ‘neither remorse nor empathy’, so won’t get parole after 15 years

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

WIESBADEN, Germany — An Iraqi man was sentenced to life in jail by a German court on Wednesday for the rape and murder of a teenage girl that fueled far-right protests against a mass influx of mostly Muslim migrants.

Rejected asylum seeker Ali Bashar, 22, was convicted of the killing and handed the maximum sentence of life in prison by the court in Wiesbaden, the city where the murder took place in May last year.

The judge, Juergen Bonk, also found the crime to be of exceptional severity, meaning that Bashar will not be granted parole after 15 years as is usually the case in Germany.

Bashar committed a “coldblooded murder” and showed “neither remorse nor empathy,” said the presiding judge, adding that during his trial the defendant had “voiced no sincere word of regret.”

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)

The Iraqi man battered, raped and strangled the Jewish schoolgirl to death in a wooded area near railway tracks on May 23, 2018.

The court heard he then 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.

Ali Bashar (R) covers his face in front of the cameras upon entering the courtroom, next to his lawyer Martin Reineke, on July 10, 2019 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 recent migrants and other foreign nationals — 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.

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.

In this file photo taken on July 2, 2019 the victim Susanna’s mother arrives for a session of the trial against defendant Ali B at court in Wiesbaden, western Germany (Boris Roessler / POOL / AFP)

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

“I have already been given a lifetime sentence,” she told a court last week.

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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