The main suspect in the case is suspected of being involved in another case of sexual assault as well | Credit: picture-alliance/dpa/P. Segel
The main suspect in the case is suspected of being involved in another case of sexual assault as well | Credit: picture-alliance/dpa/P. Segel

Police in the southwestern city are searching for two additional people suspected of being involved in the rape of a German student. Eight suspects are already in custody, and a state minister is facing criticism.

Freiburg police are looking for two additional suspects tied to the rape of an 18-year-old student that saw eight men taken into custody and street protests in the German city.

Authorities on Friday said they found two further sets of DNA traces that do not match any of the others suspects' DNA.

"We have to assume that we are looking at two additional suspects," Bernd Belle from Freiburg's criminal police force said at a news conference. Whether it is likely that even more suspects were involved was "mere speculation," he said.

Suspects from Syria, Germany

Several men are suspected of raping the victim after she had been to a nightclub in Freiburg on October 14. Police said the woman had taken drugs, but that it was unclear whether a drink she had afterward was spiked.

She is currently getting medical and psychological treatment and appears to be in "stable" condition, according to police.

Eight suspects, aged 19 to 29, are currently in custody. Seven of the men are from Syria and one is German.

Police described the main suspect, a 22-year-old from Syria, as a multiple offender. He is also suspected of being involved in another case of sexual assault.

Police also said three of the suspects in custody had posed on the internet with weapons.

"We suspect that they might be affiliated with the YPG or PKK," Belle said, referring to the Kurdish militia and extremist organization respectively.

The rape case sparked protests focusing on the suspected involvement of refugees in the case as well as counter-demonstrations urging caution about focusing on the perpetrators' nationalities.

Extra police presence promised

Freiburg, a university town in the southwest German state of Baden-Württemberg, has been shaken by the rape case and other incidents of violence over the past years.

On Friday the state's interior minister, Thomas Strobl, promised in a press conference to send additional police forces to the city.

"My offer is entirely concrete," he said. "We will support Freiburg with extra police personnel."

Strobl said this would allow the city's police officers to focus on invesigating the rape case and at the same time increase Freiburg residents' sense of security.

Stobl had been criticized following the revelation that there was an outstanding arrest warrant for the suspect in the rape case who was a multiple offender.

The conservative politician, a member of Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), promised that the state would review how it deals with foreign offenders. While protections afforded to refugees by the Geneva Convention would be observed, Storbl underscored, serious crimes committed by foreigners would lead to the revocation of residency permits.

Author: Deutsche Welle

First published: November 03, 2018

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