BERLIN (Reuters) – A 40-year-old Eritrean man accused of killing an 8-year-old boy by pushing him under a train in Frankfurt on Monday was wanted by police in Switzerland, where he had been granted asylum, German police said on Tuesday.
In an incident that has horrified Germany, the man first pushed the boy’s mother, 40, onto the track, but she rolled away. He then pushed the boy under an oncoming train before trying to push a 78-year-old woman, who fell over on the platform, federal police chief Dieter Romann said.
The same man brandished a knife at a female neighbour in Switzerland last Thursday and threatened to kill her, before fleeing, Romann said.
“As a result, Switzerland issued a national arrest warrant,” Romann told a news conference.
The man appears to have entered Germany legally, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said at the same news conference.
The man was caught by police as he tried to flee Frankfurt station. Frankfurt prosecutors have applied for a formal warrant to arrest him one charge of murder and two counts of attempted murder – for the boy’s mother and the 78-year old woman, state prosecutor Nadja Niesen said.
If convicted he would face a life sentence.
“The nature of the crime would lead you to think of a psychological illness,” Niesen said, but she added that tests were still underway to establish whether that is the case.
“There is no indication that he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” she told reporters, adding that the suspect took a breath test immediately and it showed no abnormal results.
The man has three children. Romann said he arrived in Switzerland in 2006 and was granted asylum there in 2008. He was well integrated in Switzerland and classified as “exemplary in the view of the asylum authorities” there, Romann added.
Niesen said there was no reason to think the incident was linked to a case last week in Waechtersbach, near Frankfurt, when a German attacked an Eritrean and then killed himself.
Seehofer said Germany needed to increase its police numbers. The government would review security arrangements at stations across the country, including the possibility of more video surveillance, he said.
(Reporting by Madeline Chambers and Paul Carrel; Editing by Frances Kerry)