German official questions Syria deportation haltOctober 23, 2020 2:38pm

BERLIN (AP) — Germany's top security official is calling for a review of the country's rules prohibiting all deportations to Syria after a young Syrian who had recently been released from prison was arrested as a suspect in a fatal stabbing that prosecutors suspect had an Islamic extremist motive.

Two men visiting the eastern city of Dresden from western Germany were attacked and wounded on Oct. 4. One of them later died at a hospital. The 20-year-old Syrian man was arrested on Tuesday evening and federal prosecutors took over the case the following day, investigating it as a possible act of terrorism.

Local media have reported that the Syrian, who arrived in Germany in 2015, had been convicted under juvenile law of bodily harm and trying to recruit for the Islamic State group, among other offenses. He was released on Sept. 29 and was under observation by authorities, but not around the clock.

The man's refugee status was revoked last year. However, Germany hasn't deported people to Syria since 2012 because of that country's civil war, and the Foreign Ministry's assessment so far is that none of its regions is safe.

“I will very much advocate considering whether we can't deport (people) to pacified regions of Syria, but the Foreign Ministry's assessment so far was different,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said late Thursday.

That position was backed by other officials in Seehofer's conservative camp, but opposed by center-left counterparts. It would be up to security officials from Germany's federal and state governments to change the policy.

Boris Pistorius, the center-left interior minister of Lower Saxony state, said Friday that it isn't legally feasible at present to deport criminals and known Islamists to Syria.

“There is still a civil war there, and there are no responsible and responsive authorities,” he said.

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