World News

German far-right extremist on trial over deadly 1991 fire at refugee centre

The blaze in Saarlouis has remained unsolved for more than 30 years.

A far-right extremist has gone on trial in Germany over a deadly arson attack on a refugee asylum centre more than 30 years ago.

The 51-year-old man — identified only as Peter S. — is accused of deliberately starting the blaze in the town of Saarlouis in 1991.

He faces charges of murder, attempted murder, and arson resulting in death. He denies the allegations.

The fatal fire at the refugee centre in September 1991 has remained unsolved for decades.

Samuel Yeboah, a 27-year-old asylum seeker from Ghana, died from his injuries after petrol was poured down the stairs of the building.

The 20 other refugees staying at the centre managed to escape, although two people suffered broken bones after jumping out of the windows.

Peter S. was initially questioned by investigators, but no charges were brought for lack of evidence. The investigation was relaunched two years ago, and he was arrested in April.

According to prosecutors, the suspect had participated in a number of far-right rallies in Germany, was motivated by “racist beliefs,” and had “accepted that residents could be killed or injured” in the fire.

The suspect has a “deep contempt and enormous hostility” towards refugees, prosecutor general Sophie Gössl told the court in Koblenz.

Defence lawyers say the suspect has distanced himself from such ideologies since 2007.

The trial in western Germany is expected to last until June.