‘This act was planned’ — Eritrean migrant who killed 8-year-old child by pushing him in front of train in Frankfurt won’t go to prison

By John Cody
6 Min Read

An Eritrean migrant who pushed a woman and a child at Frankfurt Central Station in front of an arriving train last year will not serve a prison sentence because he has psychiatric issues, but one of his victim’s believes the man knew exactly what he was doing.

The Eritrean man, 41-year-old Habte Araya, who was once used in a 2017 campaign to promote “successful integration” by the Swiss Workers’ Relief Agency, apologized for his actions in court through his lawyer but was not in attendance.

In July of 2018, Araya pushed a 40-year-old mother and her 8-year-old son on the tracks. The mother was only barely managed to escape from the incoming ICE express train during the 2018 incident, but her son was hit and killed before she could save him.

Araya escaped after the crime, but witnesses and an off-duty police officer chased him, allowing them to detain him soon after the crime.

‘This act was planned’ and he ‘picked out victims who were lightweight’

Araya, a father of three, not only pushed both victims on the track, but after he was done, he also targeted 78-year-old former school teacher Gerlinde S. by trying unsuccessfully to also push her on the tracks.

Although Araya has been deemed to have a psychiatric illness, Gerlinde S. told German news outlet Bild, “I find it difficult to accept that. I have the impression that this act was very planned. The perpetrator picked out victims who were lightweight. And what is particularly noticeable is how the escape was planned. He fled out of town and must have picked out platform 7 because it is very easy to escape from there. He must also have chosen a good time to be able to flee across the tracks. The tracks otherwise could also have been used by trains.”

The pensioner has suffered deep psychological trauma not only from her near-death experience, but also for being present when the boy lost his life in front of his mother. The mother’s screams were described as unbearable.

“I would like to say that it was the worst experience I have ever had in my life, and my life is pretty long already. It’s been a year now and I’ve had to work hard on myself. But I have received a lot of encouragement from my family, and I also go to therapy. But it will always be a problem for me about what happened,” she said.

Father rejects apology

“I’m very sorry,” the Araya’s lawyer quoted his client, however, the boy’s father rejected the apology, according to Czech news portal Novinky.

“My client will not accept the apology because there is no excuse for what happened,” the lawyer for the boy’s father said in court.

According to a preliminary psychiatric report, the Eritrean is not criminally liable due to mental illness, so he was not charged at all, however, the prosecutor’s office is trying to achieve his long-term placement in a psychiatric facility because he is considered him dangerous.

The horrific crime, which sparked a heated debate about immigration in the country, was at the top of front-pages and TV news broadcasts when it first occurred. The incident also prompted hundreds of citizens to lay flower wreaths, candles and stuffed animals at the site of the killing.

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) also emphasized that the crime underlined the need for stricter immigration controls to both Germany and Europe.

‘Exemplary integration’

Habte Araya, who had lived in Switzerland since 2006, where he obtained a permanent residence five years later.

Until 2019, he was considered an example of successful integration and even featured in an ad in Switzerland showing the “success” of both his and other migrants’ integration, but then his behavior allegedly reversed suddenly. Due to mental problems, he was already in the care of doctors before the attack.

On Wednesday, an Iraqi asylum seeker rammed multiple motorcyclists across Berlin with his vehicle, resulting in six injuries, three of them severe. The man is also being labeled as having “psychiatric problems” despite screaming “Allahu Ackbar” after he exited his vehicle and laying out a prayer rug to pray. The man also made previous Facebook posts claiming he wanted to be a martyr by committing a vehicle attack.

Title image: Flowers and candles were placed near a track at the main train station in Frankfurt, Germany, Tuesday, July 30, 2019. An eight-year-old boy was pushed on the rails and died on Monday, July 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

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