January 27, 2016 / 5:59 PM / 2 years ago

Germany tells Russia: don't meddle in sex crime probe

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany warned Russia on Wednesday not to make propaganda out of the alleged rape of a German-Russian girl here after Moscow’s foreign minister accused Berlin authorities of “sweeping problems under the rug”.

The Berlin prosecutor’s office is investigating the case of 13-year-old Lisa F., who has told police she was kidnapped about two weeks ago in an east Berlin neighborhood by migrants, who she says held her for 30 hours and raped her.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a Moscow news conference on Tuesday: “It is clear that the girl under no circumstances disappeared for 30 hours voluntarily.”

His German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier hit back sharply on Wednesday, saying there was no justification for exploiting the case “for political propaganda and to influence and fuel an already difficult domestic debate over migration.”

The case has sparked outrage among Berlin’s Russian community and Russian media have reported extensively on it.

About 700 people protested in front of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office on Saturday holding banners reading “Our children are in danger” and “Today my child, tomorrow yours”.

Alleged sex crimes by migrants have rocked Germany and piled pressure on the authorities after over 600 women reported sexual attacks on New Year’s Eve, most blamed on asylum seekers. Germany took in a record 1.1 million migrants last year.

Berlin prosecutor’s office spokesman Martin Steltner said on Wednesday there was no evidence to support the rape and kidnapping claims made by Lisa F., whose full surname cannot be revealed due to German privacy law.

The investigation found that she had had voluntary sexual contacts with two 20-year-old men before she disappeared, Steltner added, and they were not connected to her absence.

The prosecutor’s office is now investigating the men for suspected sexual abuse of a minor.

German foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said on Wednesday there was not the slightest reason to doubt the results of the investigation.

He also criticized Russian media, saying that responsible and enlightened citizens would be able to form their own view of the reports.

“In the long run, lies have short legs,” Schaefer added.

Additional reporting Reuters TV, Sabine Siebold and Matthias Sobolewski in Berlin and Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow; Editing by Paul Carrel and Tom Heneghan

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