It took a long time to bring the culprit to justice because of the official lackadaisical attitude that was typical of how police and authorities dealt with right-wing acts of violence in the 1990s/Photo: Femi Awoniyi

German jailed over death of African, 32 years after

Samuel Kofi Yeboah died in an arson attack on a hostel for asylum-seekers in September 1991. Thirty-two years after the tragic event in Saarlouis, a 50-year-old German national, identified as Peter S., was convicted on Monday for setting the house on fire and was thus responsible for the death of the Ghanaian man.

The culprit, a former neo-Nazi thug who confessed in the course of the trial to have been involved in the crime, was sentenced to a juvenile sentence of six years and ten months for murder, among other charges, at the Higher Regional Court in Koblenz.

It took a long time to bring the culprit to justice because the local city council refused to recognise the arson as wilful and a racist attack for 32 years. The mayor of the Saarland town has apologized for the official attitude that was typical of how police and authorities dealt with right-wing acts of violence in the 1990s.

The fire had trapped the then 27-year-old African in the early morning hours of 19 September 1991 in the attic of his accommodation for asylum seekers. He died the same day from severe burns and smoke inhalation. Other residents were saved from the flames.

The resolution of the crime that claimed the life of Yeboah came through a witness by chance in 2019. The woman came forward to the police after she became aware of the case in the media. She recalled that the man who was convicted for the crime had bragged about committing the crime at a barbecue party. The Office of the Attorney General then took over the investigation and prosecution.

The crime was judged under juvenile criminal law, as the convict was still considered an adolescent at the time of the crime.

Sola Jolaoso

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