An Afghan asylum seeker who raped and murdered the daughter of a top EU official has been sentenced to life in jail in Germany today.
Hussein Khavari, of uncertain age and origin, was found guilty of the deadly night-time attack on medical student Maria Ladenburger, 19, in October 2016 in the university town of Freiburg.
At the time of the murder, Khavari claimed to be 17, but testing on his teeth showed him to be between 22 and 29 years old. His own father later claimed he is 34.
Sentenced: Afghan migrant Hussein Khavari, pictured during his trial last year, has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Maria Ladenburger
Khavari, pictured today in court with his identity obscured by European photo agencies, broke down and asked for forgiveness during the court hearings
Khavari’s full identity is still protected in Germany because of the country’s strict privacy laws.
Presiding judge Kathrin Schenk condemned Khavari’s extreme ‘lack of empathy’ as she handed down the maximum sentence of life in prison, which under German law means 15 years behind bars.
Once the 15 years are up, Khavari, who was handcuffed and wearing a black hooded jumper in court today, may be ordered to remain in ‘security detention’ if he is still deemed to pose a threat to society.
Schenk said she saw almost no chance of rehabilitation, telling Khavari that ‘you would have to become an entirely different human being’.
Ms Ladenburger’s murder stoked a public backlash against a mass influx of migrants and Angela Merkel’s refugee policy.
Social media users posted sarcastic ‘thank you’ messages to Chancellor Merkel over her liberal policy that brought more than one million refugees and migrants to the country in 2015.
During the trial, prosecutor Eckart Berger had reminded the two jurors sitting alongside three judges that ‘on trial is a criminal offender and not Germany’s refugee policy’.
Khavari, pictured today, initially claimed to be 17 years old but he was convicted as an adult after age tests on his teeth showed him to be at least 22
Speaking in court during his trial, Khavari recalled how he had smoked hashish the night he ambushed the 19-year-old in October 2016, raped her and drowned her in the knee-deep water of a nearby river.
He said the night of the killing he was so drunk he was ejected from a bar and left alone by his friends in town.
He claims he accidentally came across Ms Ladenburger, who shouted out as she fell from her bicycle. He said he pressed her mouth shut then choked her with a scarf and put her unconscious into the water.
‘When I saw how pretty she was, I wanted to have sex with her,’ he said, but claims he was too drunk.
He broke down in court and added: ‘I want to apologize to the family of Maria’.
Reading from a statement he went on: ‘I beg your pardon. I want to apologise to the family of Maria. I wish I could undo it. What I have done, I am sad for from the bottom of my heart.’
He said he dreams of what he did every day as he wiped tears from his face.
‘I live with the agony of what I did and this torment destroys my life by and by,’ he added. He claims he dragged her into the river ‘because I wanted to wash her blood from me.’
Prosecutors dispute his account of the murder and say he planned it beforehand. And a psychiatric expert said his remorse was fake.
The expert warned of a ‘high risk’ of him re-offfending, said he has a ‘great and persistent readiness for violence, an interest in aggressive sexual practices and a hostile attitude towards women. Moreover, he does not show remorse and compassion to the suffering of other people.’
It was learned after his arrest that he had been arrested and sentenced to ten years for attempted murder in Corfu in 2013 before coming to Germany seeking refuge in 2015. It remains unclear why Greece let him out of jail so quickly.
Khavari has admitted to raping and murdering 19-year-old medical student Maria Ladenburger in Freiberg, Germany, in October 2016
German authorities knew nothing of his past and so let him into the country as a registered asylum seeker.
Ironically his victim, whose father is a senior legal adviser to the European Commission in Brussels, worked in her spare time in the ancient university city of Freiburg helping out migrants in various shelters and homes.
Khavari arrived in Germany, without identity papers, in November 2015, near the peak of the refugee influx, as an unaccompanied minor claiming to be 16 or 17 years old and hailing from Afghanistan.
A police officer told the court that Khavari’s cellphone and social media accounts suggested he had lived in Iran.
Khavari was sent to live with a German host family in the picturesque town on the edge of the Black Forest, went to a local school, learnt German and received state benefits.
It emerged only after his arrest that he had already committed a violent crime in May 2013 in Greece, where he pushed a woman off a cliff on the island of Corfu, leaving her badly injured.
He was sentenced there in February 2014 to 10 years jail for attempted murder but was granted a conditional release from Greece’s overcrowded jails in October 2015.
He fled to Germany, where authorities knew nothing of his criminal past because Greece had only issued a nationwide warrant, and because no match was detected in an EU-wide fingerprint data base for asylum seekers.
Khavari was initially tried as a juvenile offender, but the court accepted expert opinions, based on X-rays and dental analysis, that he is now aged between 22 and 29.
The defendant had admitted to the crime, but claimed diminished culpability because he was under the influence of alcohol and drugs – a position which his defence said it would argue again in an appeal.
Khavari had also claimed that his father died long ago in a battle against Afghanistan’s Taliban.
Judge Schenk in December dialled a number on Khavari’s cellphone and reached his father, who told her through an interpreter that he was living in Iran.