A rejected asylum-seeker who was arrested by German police in Iraq has gone on trial for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old German Jewish girl in Wiesbaden.
Ali Bashar, 22, admitted in court that he had strangled Susanna Feldman, but said he did not know how it happened.
The May 2018 killing prompted outrage in Germany and led Chancellor Angela Merkel to call for faster deportation of failed asylum seekers.
The girl’s body was found two weeks after she disappeared.
“Everything went black before my eyes, then it all happened,” the murderer told the court through an interpreter. “I don’t know how it could have happened.”
Bashar also faces charges over a robbery in which he beat, strangled and threatened a man with a knife in a park, to steal his watch, bag, phone, and bank card.
Ali Bashar also faces a separate trial next week for raping an 11-year-old girl.
The Iraqi murderer, along with his parents and five siblings, first arrived in Germany in 2015, the year that saw the peak of the immigrant influx that would bring more than one million Muslims to Germany.
His request for asylum was rejected in December 2016, but he obtained a temporary residence permit pending his appeal.
In May last year, Bashar beat, raped and strangled Susanna to death in a wooded area near his refugee shelter in Wiesbaden.
Her body was then buried in a shallow grave and covered with leaves, twigs, and soil.
When her body was found two weeks later, the murderer and his family had left Germany for Arbil in Iraq.
After a public outcry, Bashar was arrested by Kurdish security forces, and the German federal police hauled him back from Iraq.