German government condemns pictures showing refugees abused

Mon Sep 29, 2014 10:18am EDT
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By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN (Reuters) - The German government on Monday condemned suspected cases of abuse against refugees in which asylum-seekers were maltreated by security guards and even forced to lie in a bed filled with vomit.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said pictures published in German media that appear to show private security guards abusing refugees were repulsive and shocking.

Rights groups also criticised the apparent abuses, which evoked the violations by American guards at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq that emerged in 2004.

Authorties in North Rhine-Westphalia state are investigating six security guards. Seibert said Germany would not tolerate such abominable behavior.

"If what is in the pictures is confirmed, that the refugees are indeed being abused and humiliated, it would be a most repulsive act," Seibert told a news conference in Berlin.

In one picture a security guard is seen stepping on the head of a handcuffed refugee lying on the floor at a refugee center while another picture shows a 20-year-old refugee from Algeria being forced to get into a bed covered with vomit.

In a video, the refugee is heard to ask why the guard wants to torture him by forcing him into the vomit-filled bed. "A good Christian turns the other cheek," the guard tells him.

Germany, partly due to its Nazi past, is one of the world's leading destinations for people fleeing oppression and war. It had the largest number of new asylum claims among industrialised nations in the first half of 2014 - 65,700, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.   Continued...