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German police accused of covering up the rape of a 13-year-old girl

Russia is calling for an explanation over Berlin’s handling of the case.

File Photo
File Photo
Image: Shutterstock/Lukassek

GERMAN POLICE ARE investigating a man for allegedly sexually abusing a German-Russian teenager, whose claim she was kidnapped and raped by foreigners in Berlin was backed by Moscow yesterday.

Berlin police rejected the 13-year-old’s account last week.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov lent credence to the girl’s allegations saying: “We are now working with her lawyer. He is working with her family, with our embassy.”

Lavrov told reporters: “It is clear that the girl – absolutely for sure not voluntarily – disappeared for 30 hours.”

But Berlin’s prosecutors believe the girl had consensual sexual relations during that period, and said it might not have been the first time.

“She has clearly fallen into bad company,” Martin Steltner, a spokesman for Berlin’s prosecutor’s office, told the daily Berliner Zeitung.

He confirmed that one man was being investigated, while national news agency DPA said two suspects are being probed.

Sex with anyone under the age of 14, even if consensual, is a crime in Germany which is punishable by imprisonment.

The teenager, identified by Russian media as “Liza”, went missing in Berlin on January 11, reportedly on her way to school.

She subsequently returned and filed a police report, with her parents telling investigators she was kidnapped by three men at a railway station in eastern Berlin.

An alleged cover-up?

The girl described the men as coming from “southern countries and speaking broken German”, saying they drove her to an apartment where they raped and beat her, according to German media reports.

The case has sparked outrage and allegations on far-right and Russian media of an official cover-up.

The incident came to light just weeks after a spate of New Year’s assaults on women in the German city of Cologne allegedly carried out, for the most part, by Arab and North African men, that was initially met with silence from the police.

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Last year, Germany took in nearly 1.1 million asylum seekers, most of them from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, with Chancellor Angela Merkel under increasing pressure over her welcoming stance toward refugees fleeing war.

Lavrov said he regretted the news of Liza’s disappearance had “been hidden for a very long time, for some reason”.

Germany’s foreign ministry declined to react to Lavrov’s comments.

Russian state media outlets have also rejected the German police findings, accusing them of trying to cover up a crime, with pro-Kremlin NTV channel even going so far as to allege that residents in Germany and in Sweden are “regularly raped by refugees”.

“There are several cases of sexual assault but the local authorities and police hide these facts and do not open criminal investigations,” it claimed.

© – AFP 2016

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