A Ukrainian teen refugee was stabbed to death and another injured in a frenzied knife attack in the German city of Oberhausen on Saturday evening in what is being reported as a racially motivated murder.
Volodymyr Yermakov, a 17-year-old aspiring basketball player took the bus with his teammate from the CentrO shopping center in the city to the main train station at approximately 8 p.m. when they were confronted by a gang of youths.
The gang followed them off the bus and attacked the pair of Ukrainian nationals as they headed to the train station to head home to Düsseldorf.
German newspaper Bild reported the two victims were stabbed a total of nine times in the chest and stomach with a knife. Volodymyr died from his injuries while his teammate, Artem K., was rushed to hospital where he continues to receive treatment.
The attack was initially reported by the Kyiv Basketball Federation in a social media post on Sunday.
“Volodymyr and his friend Artem Kozachenko played for the youth team “ART Giants” (U-19) from Düsseldorf. On the eve of another match, the young basketball players were attacked with knives on the street just because they are Ukrainians. According to preliminary information, the criminals are eight young people of Arab appearance,” the federation wrote.
“The whole crew spent the night at the hospital next to our boys. Unfortunately, doctors could not save Yermakov, and Kozachenko remains in intensive care. Local police are already leading the case. There were witnesses at the scene,” it added.
The assailants fled the scene following the stabbings but German police quickly identified one suspect from video footage of the crime scene. They moved to arrest a 15-year-old German-Turk on Sunday evening, a minor already well known to the police for previous convictions for assault and robbery.
Another suspect, a 14-year-old minor with a migration background who was also known to authorities, was arrested but later released due to a lack of evidence.
Oleh Nikolenko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the department is in constant communication with the German authorities over the attack.
“According to available information, the police have already detained the attacker. Investigations are underway,” Nikolenko said.
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“The Consulate General in Düsseldorf has already held talks with the head of the Essen police. The consuls emphasized the need for a speedy investigation and for the perpetrator to be brought to justice,” he added.
The Ukrainian Basketball Association revealed that Volodymyr had moved to Düsseldorf in July last year “to escape the war in his country of birth.”
“Volodymyr was very popular with coaches, teammates, and friends. A young person will be remembered whose everyday life was characterized by pure joy of life and sporting ambition,” it added.