Frankfurt rail attack: Boy's killer given life in psychiatric ward

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A makeshift memorial for an eight-year-old boy who died when a man pushed him and his mother in front of a trainImage copyright
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Image caption

An eight-year-old boy was killed in the attack and his mother was injured

A man who pushed an eight-year-old boy and his mother into the path of an oncoming train at Frankfurt’s central station in Germany has been ordered into permanent psychiatric care.

The boy died but his mother survived. A woman of 79 was also hurt.

The 41-year-old attacker, a refugee from Eritrea, was found to be not criminally responsible after a report said he had paranoid schizophrenia.

The killing triggered a heated debate about immigration and crime.

The court in Frankfurt ruled on Friday that the act was both murder and attempted murder.

What is known about the attacker?

Habte Araya, a father of three, had been living in Switzerland for several years but had recently come to Frankfurt before he pushed the boy, named Leo, and his mother off Platform 7 of Frankfurt Central Station.

The woman managed to get out of the way of the ICE intercity express at the last moment. The attacker fled the station but onlookers chased after him.

A psychiatric report commissioned by prosecutors found that he was suffering from acute paranoid schizophrenia and was a danger to the public, but not criminally responsible. The court backed its findings.

In a statement to the court, he said he was “very seriously ill” and had no recollection of what had happened: “I’m extremely sorry, especially for the family of young eight-year-old Leo who died because of my act.”

What happened in court?

The 79-year-old, who was herself pushed over, told the trial in Frankfurt that the man had used considerable force on Leo and his mother and she saw them “both fly through the air”.

Another witness told the court how he had helped the mother off the track and looked after her until paramedics arrived.

The victim’s mother did not attend the trial because of poor health but her husband did. The family’s lawyer Ulrich Warncke said there could be no excuse for what had been done.

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Media captionThe suspect was tackled by passers-by after trying to escape