Gitmo in Germany? Security guards abuse asylum seekers
The seekers were abused in shelter home in a small community of Burbach, North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous state of Germany, reported the country’s press. The scandal has prompted the German government to publicly condemn pictures showing the abuse.
The alleged suspects filmed all the guards’ actions on smartphones. A local journalist received a DVD showing the abuse. Police authorities immediately opened investigation into the case.
One video shows an asylum seeker lying on the floor and one of the members of security staff pinning his neck down with his boot. The other guard is sitting near-by, seeming posing to the camera.
Another video shows one more refugee sitting on the vomit-covered mattress.
"These are pictures that most of us would associate with Guantanamo Bay," Frank Richter, police chief in nearby city of Hagen, told local media. "Both security guards are grinning."
Richter said that the alleged crimes might also have xenophobic nature.
"So far, however, we have not found any evidence that the perpetrators belong to the far-right scene," he said.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibertstated on Monday that "if what is in the pictures is confirmed, that the refugees are indeed being abused and humiliated, it would be a most repulsive act."
"Germany is a humane country that holds human rights in high high regard," he told the news conference in Berlin.
According to police spokesman Ulrich Hanki, police also found a picture on a guard's cellphone showing a security officer pushing his foot against the neck of man on the floor.
Hanki told AP that other refugees reported further abuse to the police. The two alleged abusers were from European Homecare, a private security company and one of the main operators of asylum seeker facilities in the country. All its guards were reportedly withdrawn from the shelter home.
Johannes Daheim, the senior public prosecutor in nearby city of Siegen, told local media that the videos looked disturbing.
"It's disturbing, when one imagines that these people have come to us from other countries, having already suffered from violence. They are seeking protection here, and are then subjected to such a situation. This only serves to worsen their trauma," Daheim said.
Local authorities will press charges against the alleged offenders and ensure "that this never happens again", Interior Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia Ralf Jäger told ZDF TV.
Gerd Bollermann, the president of the municipal government said he was shocked by the images. He added that the local authorities would make more investigation on the security staff in the future.
However, he added that the rising numbers of asylum seekers in Germany has put much pressure on security staff in the recent time.
According to Richter, Burbach with population of about 14,000 people, hosts shelters for about 700 refugees.
Germany has recently topped asylum claims, as the number of asylum seekers since the beginning of 2014 reached 65,700 applications, the UN refugee agency said on Friday.