Police: Report of migrant's death was fabricated

Berlin police said late Wednesday that the purported death of a 24-year-old migrant after waiting for days outside a registration office in the German capital was fabricated by a volunteer from a social aid group.

The volunteer had described taking in the ailing migrant and calling an ambulance for the man, who was suffering from a severe fever. He said the migrant died en route to a hospital.

Police said that after questioning, the man who originated the tale, who was working with Berlin volunteer organization Moabit Hilft, admitting making up the story.

Earlier, a spokeswoman for Moabit Hilft had related the story to dpa.

The discredited story was set at Lageso - a Berlin registration centre for asylum seekers, which has become a symbol for Germany's lumbering and chaotic response to the refugee influx.

Lageso, a German acronym for the capital's State Office for Health and Social Affairs, has repeatedly made headlines in recent months with images of long queues and tented accommodation.

As reports of the death spread Wednesday through social media, Berlin city social welfare officials had said for hours that they could not verify the alleged death.

"We have checked all hospital admissions," a department spokeswoman said, noting there was no trace of the reported dead migrant.

Berlin fire officials had been unable to verify an emergency call matching the volunteer's story.

"Why, I ask, did he have to die?" the volunteer, who later recanted the story, had written in a Facebook post, which he later deleted.

"Maybe because we haven't been given an appointment for days?" he wrote, claiming the asylum seeker had been unable to see a doctor.

Moabit Hilft has been loudly critical of the Berlin city authorities' handling of the migration crisis. The group's spokeswoman had said that there was no reason to doubt the death, prior to the volunteer's recanting of the story.

A police spokeswoman said that the death story posted on Facebook was false but apparently did not constitute a crime, despite the far-reaching consequences.

Last update: Thu, 28/01/2016 - 14:05

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