Germany arrests man suspected in drowning of 5 migrants

AP News
Posted: Dec 23, 2015 7:13 AM

BERLIN (AP) — A suspected people-trafficker wanted in connection with the drowning of five Syrians has been arrested in Germany, police said Wednesday.

The 37-year-old Syrian asylum-seeker was arrested Tuesday by members of two elite police units in Strausberg, near Berlin, said a spokesman for federal police.

A relative of one of the victims had tracked the man down and tipped German authorities. "Otherwise we, the German police, wouldn't have heard about this case," federal police spokesman Jens Schobranski told The Associated Press.

The suspect allegedly took $2,400 from fellow Syrian migrants and put them on a small boat that left the Turkish port of Fethiye for Greece on the night of April 20, despite bad weather, said Schrobranski.

The boat, carrying 10 people, soon lost power and capsized. Five people were rescued and brought back to Turkey.

The bodies of two men — possibly accomplices, said Schrobranski — were later found. Two men and a woman remain missing, he said.

Schobranski said police are hoping others harmed by the man's actions might come forward. "We think it's highly likely that he engaged in further smuggling, but we're still at the start here."

The man, who wasn't named due to German privacy rules, faces a minimum of three years' imprisonment if convicted of trafficking resulting in death.