German Police could come under fire over their handling of the arrest of a terrorist suspect in Monday’s deadly truck attack on Berlin Christmas market.
Police quickly picked up a 23-year-old Pakistani refugee a few kilometres from the site of the attack on Monday night with Berlin’s mayor Michael Mueller declaring two hours after the attack that the situation in the capital was under control.
But the next day, the authorities were forced to backtrack and admit that they might have the wrong man and that a possible armed terrorist might have already been at large for 17 hours.
They have so far not released any details of other suspects in the case.
The Pakistani refugee denied any involvement in the attack.
German Minister for the Interior Thomas de Maiziere said that a gun involved in the alleged murder of the driver of the hijacked truck used in the attack, had not been found.
But the statement that they have the wrong man came after the authorities named the Pakistani refugee and released extensive details about him, including the route he took to Germany and that he had faced accusations of sexual assault.
It was also not the first time that German police have faced embarrassment over their handling of a terrorist suspect case.
In October, a 22-year-old Syrian refugee, Jaber al-Bakr, suspected of planning a bomb attack on a Berlin airport was found hanged in his prison cell in the eastern German city of Leipzig.
Sebastian Gemkow, minister of justice in the German state of Saxony insisted that judicial authorities had done all they could to prevent the suspect from taking his own life and refused to resign as a result of the incident.
Al-Bakr’s suicide came in the wake of a series of errors in the case after he narrowly avoided arrest during the raid on his flat in the city of Chemnitz.
He was then able to make the journey of around 100 kilometers to Leipzig, despite a major police operation.
Al-Bakr was later captured and handed over to police by three of his Syrian refugee compatriots, who were lauded by politicians and the press as heroes.
De Maiziere was also criticised in November last year for whipping public alarm after saying when answering questions as to why he had cancelled a local football match that:
“Some of these answers would make the population insecure.’’ De Maiziere said.