Volunteer who fabricated refugee death may face legal consequences

A volunteer whose account of a Syrian refugee dying after a long wait outside a Berlin refugee centre was found to have been fabricated could face legal consequences, a Berlin official said Thursday.

The capital's Senator of the Interior Frank Henkel said the volunteer - whose announcement via Facebook Wednesday prompted an intense search of Berlin hospitals in an attempt to verify the death - should be punished for his behaviour.

"This is one of the lousiest and most perfidious acts I have ever witnessed," Henkel said. "Berlin authorities were forced to mount a hours-long effort to search for the [man]."

The volunteer, working on behalf of aid group Moabit Hilft, had claimed that a 24-year-old Syrian man forced to stand outside a registration centre in cold temperatures for several days had become severely ill, only to die in an ambulance en route to hospital.

The man's announcement prompted a feverish search of hospitals by Berlin authorities, who have repeatedly come under fire for what critics say is a chaotic and lumbering response to the refugee influx that sees several hundred people arriving in the city each day.

The registration centre in question is managed by Lageso, the capital's State Office for Health and Social Affairs, which has made headlines in recent months for its inability to register and adequately house arriving migrants.

Moabit Hilft, which had initially stood behind its volunteer's account of the death, said it was "stunned" by the revelations, adding that it had not been able to make contact with the man, who barricaded himself in his apartment late Wednesday before admitting to the fabrication during police questioning.

"We have experienced him as a reliable person full of integrity ... who was engaged in helping refugees in a variety of ways" over the course of several months, the organization said in a statement.

Last update: Thu, 28/01/2016 - 13:26

More from Europe

Turkish authorities capture main suspect in Istanbul nightclub attack

Turkish police Monday captured the man believed to be responsible for the New Year's Eve attack in an Istanbul...

Berlin official resigns after scandal over cover-up of Stasi past

A Berlin official who spent five months working for the East German secret police announced his resignation on...

Hollande to Trump: Europe doesn't need "outside advice"

French President Francois Hollande rejected remarks by US president-elect Donald Trump on the future of the European...

Merkel warns against speedy Brexit talks ahead of May's speech

German Chancellor Angela Merkel played down expectations on Monday of a rapid round of negotiations aimed at ending...

Merkel fires back at Trump, says Europe will choose its own 'destiny'

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday fired back at US president-elect Donald Trump's denunciation of her...