In the trial for a deadly arson attack in Saarlouis 30 years ago, the defendant made a statement on Tuesday. In the written statement, which his defense lawyer read, 51-year-old Peter S. confessed that he had been present at the crime; however, the idea and the actual arson were the act of an acquaintance from right-wing extremist circles. S. emphasized that he had been heavily intoxicated.

Timo Steppat

Correspondent for Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland based in Wiesbaden.

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In a pub where S. met with two other men in September 1991, he said he arranged to meet one of them at the train station. It is said to have been Heiko S. When the defendant later asked S. what he had with him, he replied "fuel". The defendant had initially assumed alcohol and said he did not want to drink any more.

As a result, the acquaintance is said to have said that it was real fuel and that he now wanted to go to the asylum home. "Without further inquiry," the accused followed him, the defense attorney read aloud. After the fact, he was "completely exhausted" and "shocked". "The accused did not think that someone could die." Nor did he intend to do so. The defendant "deeply regretted" the incident. The other man is said to have urged him by phone to keep the crime to himself.

Charge of murder

Since November last year, the trial against Peter S. has been underway at the Higher Regional Court of Koblenz. The Federal Prosecutor's Office accuses him of the murder of the Ghanaian refugee Samuel Yeboah, who died as a result of the arson attack. So far, S. has denied all allegations.

Due to a self-incrimination, which he is said to have made 15 years ago at a barbecue party, the investigators came on his trail. At the end of March, the State Security Senate brought a deal into play that pointed to a possible conviction. In the case of a "credible and qualified confession", this could have a mitigating effect on the sentence. S.'s defense attorney did not allow questions from judges or prosecution on Tuesday.

A representative of the joint plaintiff expressed doubts about the truthfulness of the statement, which did not coincide with the taking of evidence. In the course of the negotiations, the lawyers of the co-plaintiff, who represent survivors of the attack, had insisted that a deal had to be linked to extensive explanations of the right-wing extremist scene of the time. The court wants to examine the testimony of Peter S.