A teenage Syrian refugee has been convicted of setting a homeless man on fire in Berlin last Christmas and given a lenient sentence.
Berlin’s Regional Court has sentenced the 17-year-old refugee to two weeks of juvenile detention and community service for the violent crime. His pre-trial detention will count toward the sentence and he is expected to skip the penalty altogether.
The Syrian teen received a lighter sentence because it was determined he was not directly involved in assaulting the homeless man. However, he did admit to witnessing the man being set on fire and did not attempt to intervene.
The attack allegedly involved six other male suspects between the ages of 16 and 21–all born in Libya and Syria– who are now facing attempted murder charges.
Only one of the suspects, known as the “ringleader,” will be tried as an adult and could face at least three years in prison if found guilty. The 21-year-old told officials he could not recall the events that took place because he was highly intoxicated at the time.
Deutsche Welle News reports:
The group allegedly lit flammable objects on fire and waved them next to the head of the homeless man who was sleeping on a bench in the Schönleinstraße subway station in the early hours of Christmas day 2016.
The man, a 37-year-old Polish national, was subsequently set on fire and was only rescued after passengers from an incoming subway carriage managed to put out the flames. The man was unhurt but all his possessions were destroyed.
Conservative German official Barbara John told German newspaper Berliner Zeitung, “The suspects will hopefully be put on trial and then found guilty … It would be good if we could then get rid of them. Once this sort of thing starts, where does it end?” according to Deutsche Welle.
The heinous crime has fueled a growing anti-migrant sentiment after a series of attacks were carried out across Germany. Once such attack occurred two weeks before the homeless man was set on fire, when a Tunisian asylum-seeker Anis Amri plowed a truck into a Berlin Christmas market, killing a dozen people and injuring countless others.
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