Despite 34-year-old Berhan S. breaking into the Protestant school in the multicultural Berlin neighborhood of Neukölln and stabbing two little girls, his crime will go unpunished. Instead, the courts have ruled that due to “mental illness,” he cannot be held responsible for the stabbing case, in which the two 8-year-old girls nearly lost their lives after suffering multiple wounds to their necks and chests.
In the Berlin public prosecutor’s office’s “preliminary psychiatric report,” it stated that Berhan S. “was in a psychotic state at the time of the crime due to a mental illness,” which was first reported by BZ.
Remix News reported on the stabbing in May when it first occurred. The man scaled the fence of the Christian school and stabbed the two girls while they were playing table tennis. According to news reports, approximately 30 children in the schoolyard looked on in horror during the attack. The suspect then calmly lit up a cigarette and waited for police to arrest him.
Germany: Berhan S. stabs 2 young girls inside Berlin’s Protestant School as 30 children watch on in horror
The perpetrator had a long criminal record and was suspected of being involved in another stabbing attack from 2009 but was never charged
BZ journalist Gunnar Schupelius criticized the manner in which the man was deemed psychologically unfit to stand trial. So far, the courts only released the information that Berhan S. stated he “heard voices ordering him to kill the girls.” However, the public has not received any other information, and the process by which the man was deemed unfit to stand trial remains opaque, while the families have been offered little in terms of closure or justice.
Berhan S. also has plenty of experience with the criminal justice system and may have had a motive to fake or embellish a psychiatric condition. He was already arrested for stabbing his ex-girlfriend in 2009, Sonja K., who barely survived the stabbing. The mother of the victim said that both she and her daughter were threatened by Berhan S.’s strict Islamic family if they went to the police with any complaints against the death threats.
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Berhan S. had at least 11 criminal complaints on his record before targeting the schoolgirls, including threats, physical assault, and coercion.
“Many questions remain unanswered,” wrote Schupelius in his commentary piece. “Was Berhan S. observed by the police? What role does his religious indoctrination play? Why did he hear his voices outside a Christian school?”
He criticized that due to the lack of investigation, the public may never learn what was behind the attack.
German courts have a long history of throwing out high-profile cases due to psychiatric concerns. In Berlin in 2021, an Islamic radical was found ineligible to stand trial despite running over motorcyclists and praying to Allah after his crimes. In 2020, a Somali migrant who murdered three women in a knife attack in Würzburg never stood trial after he was committed to a psychiatric ward, and an Eritrean migrant who pushed an 8-year-old boy to his death on train tracks in Frankfurt in 2020 also avoided jail for the same reason.