Fingerprints in Berlin truck match those of suspect Anis Amri

6 months, 9 days ago

Interior minister says publishes and other proof make it highly probable Tunisian man carried out Christmas market attack

Fingerprints found inside the cabin of the truck that ploughed into a Berlin Christmas market match those of the fugitive suspect Anis Amri, Germanys federal prosecutors office confirmed on Thursday night.

Spokeswoman Frauke Khler said that fingerprints of the Tunisian, who turned 24 on Thursday, had been discovered on the outside of the Polish-registered articulated truck, as well as the drivers door and the vertical support ray in the vehicles window area.

Speaking at a joint press conference with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, the home minister, Thomas de Maizire, said that the fingerprints and other evidence made it highly probable that the Tunisian suspect was the perpetrator of Mondays terror attack.

Merkel told the press conference that she hoped the suspect would be caught soon and that “shes been” heartened by the public reaction to the tragedy: In the last few days I have been very proud of how level-headed the reaction of the majority of people to this situation has been.

The findings came as Amris brother said he could not believe that his sibling would have carried out the cruelty. There was no sign he had been radicalised. Im sure he cant have done this, thats not why he emigrated. May God reveal the truth, Abdelkader Amri told a reporter from Agence France-Presse outside his home in the town of Oueslatia, about 30 miles( 50 km) from Kairouan in eastern Tunisia.

If my brother is behind the attack, I say to him: You shame us, Abdelkader Amri said.

The suspect, meanwhile, remained on the run, with German police left empty-handed after a day of raids around the country. In Berlins Moabit district, a commando division deployed flash grenades to storm a Salafist meeting point that had been frequented by Amri but left without making arrests.

Anis Amri, who is the subject of a European apprehend warrant. Photograph: BKA/ EPA

Farther south, in the city of Heilbronn, police searched a coach-and-four travelling from Luxembourg to Bosnia but afterward said the operation had been triggered by a lawsuit of mistaken identity. Overnight raids were conducted on apartments in Berlin and Dortmund, but reports of the arrest of Amris associates were unfounded.

With a human dreaded armed and dangerous still on the loose three days after Mondays deadly assault, German politicians rounded on the countrys security services, with one politician accusing intelligence agencies of catastrophic mistakes. What we are dealing with is a failure of government that cannot be tolerated, the opponent politician Christian Lindner of the Free Democrat told the German news organization DPA.

A deputy chairman of Merkels Christian Democratic party accused intelligence agencies of incompetence, saying Wednesdays reports on security failures had left him shocked.

Having first registered in the North-Rhine Westphalia region upon entering Germany in July 2015, the suspect had been identified as a security hazard and put under close surveillance, with examiners even aware of his willingness to carry out a suicide attack. But a surveillance operation was stopped in September and Amri dropped off intelligence agencies radar in November, maybe due to a mix-up between regional authorities.

Criticising the work of intelligence agencies in North-Rhine Westphalia, the CDU deputy chair, Armin Laschet, said: So the posture has appeared to be: Hes gone to Berlin, so the case is closed for us here. Now its Berlins turn.

Laschet called for better coordination between security agencies across Germanys federal country system.

The delay in identifying Amri as the driver of the truck also continued to raise eyebrows, after police had incorrectly arrested a Pakistani asylum seeker in the direct aftermath of the attack.

A memorial to victim at the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market. Photograph: Sean Gallup/ Getty

A tweet by the founder of the nationalist, anti-Islam motion Pegida had caused supposition as to whether police already knew the correct identity of the attacker on Monday night. Merely two hours after the two attacks, Lutz Bachmann had tweeted that the perpetrator was a Tunisian Muslim, quoting an internal source with Berlins police force.

But police on Thursday was of the view that still have not obtained the wallet with the documents that identified Amri until Tuesday afternoon, stating that the truck had had to be moved from the site of the accident and searched by sniffer dogs before it could be properly scrutinised by police officers.

Anis Amri had fled Tunisia after the 2011 revolution, registering on the island of Lampedusa in February that year. According to Italian media, he started to show signs of aggressive behaviour while attending a centre for minors in Catania, reportedly having tried to set his school on fire. In October 2011, Amri was charged for theft, arson and personal menaces and sentenced to four years in jail.

He reportedly spent time in prisons in Catania and then Palermo.

During his time in prison his aggressive behaviour referred to by guards, an official told the Guardian. After his release, Amri was sent to an immigration centre at Caltanissetta, from where he was due to be deported back to Tunisia. Since authorities in Tunisia refused to recognise Amri as a Tunisian citizen, however, the expulsion did not take place. In the summer of 2015 Anis left Italy for Germany, first registering in the town of Emmerich am Rhine.

In April 2016 Amri applied for asylum at the status of refugees shelter in Kleve, also in North Rhine-Westphalia, but his application was rejected only a few weeks later. Amri had pretended to be an Egyptian national, but German officials had noticed that “youve already” registered elsewhere under different names. He was therefore due to be deported back to Tunisia.

But as in Italy, authorities in his home country did not recognise him as one of their citizens. On 30 July, Amri was caught in a routine check of a coach in Friedrichshafen and moved to a prison in Ravensburg after police noticed that he was due to be deported and carrying fake Italian ID documents. Two days later the Tunisian was released again, most likely because of the missing documents from Tunisia.

Additional reporting by Lorenzo Tondo

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