Police in Berlin have arrested seven migrants who are accused of setting a homeless man on fire in an underground station in the German city.
The migrants allegedly set a homeless man on fire as he slept at the Berlin Schonleinstrasse platform bench overnight on Christmas Eve, according to police sources.
Officers were able to establish the identities of all of the suspects, and have stated that the men are all migrants aged between 15 and 21.
“The seven suspects are all young men between 15 and 21 years of age,” Thomas Neuendorf, deputy head of the Berlin police press office, told Ruptly video agency.
The gang members are suspected of torching the 37-year-old victim as he slept on a platform bench at Schönleinstraße station. The homeless man was saved by a quick-thinking train driver.
Police have also identified the main suspect in the case, Berlin’s RBB reports. “We know who the prime suspect is. It is the 21-year-old [migrant],” the police spokesperson told the media outlet.
Neuendorf told Bild that detectives believe the 21-year-old to have been the main perpetrator after studying footage of the attack. After torching the homeless man, the suspected assailants jumped onto a train to make their getaway.
CCTV footage captured them watching and laughing as the man was burning on the platform. It appeared they were celebrating, according to local press.
Law enforcement officials say the attack was an attempted murder and have confirmed that an investigation was underway. The victim only escaped without serious injuries after a man helped to extinguish the flames.
“Six of the suspects were born in Syria and one of the suspects was born in Libya. All of the suspects have refugee status here [Germany],” the official confirmed.
It is not clear how the migrants had entered the country, Spiegel Online reported, citing a police spokeswoman.
Berlin’s minister for the interior, Andreas Geisel, has called the attack “inhumane” and thanked the passersby for coming to the aid of the homeless person. “I am horrified and I am thanking all those who courageously helped. This is truly a fellow-humanity,” Geisel told a German newspaper Die Zeit.
Berlin’s law enforcement authorities released CCTV footage two weeks ago, showing a male kicking a young woman down the stairs at a station, breaking her arm.
The assailant who turned out to be a 27-year-old foreigner who had fled to France. He is now being investigated alongside his two brothers after re-entering Germany, as well as another person seen in the CCTV footage during the assault.