Migrant family faked hate crime arson for insurance payout in Germany

Prosecutors say the fire at the Pakistani family's home was an insurance scam, not a hate crime.

Migrant family faked hate crime arson for insurance payout in Germany
Marc Webersinn/dpa
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A house fire in Germany on Christmas that was initially suspected to be a hate crime fueled by anti-immigrant sentiments has been revealed as an audacious insurance fraud scheme carried out by the homeowners themselves, according to prosecutors, Remix News reports.

The fire, which raged for eight hours on December 25, 2023, caused an estimated €350,000 ($375,000) in damage to the residence of a Pakistani family. However, investigators have now concluded that the family members deliberately set the blaze and tried to mislead authorities by scrawling far-right slogans at the scene.

According to the German newspaper Bild, prosecutors allege the Pakistani family resorted to the right-wing graffiti to divert suspicion away from themselves. Their alleged motive was to file an insurance claim and collect a payout.

Authorities became suspicious when the 47-year-old male homeowner, who claimed he was not present during the fire, was found to have fresh burns on his arm. Prosecutors now believe the family started the fire to defraud their insurer.

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Hesse commented on the case in a statement:

It was a slap in the face to many thousands of AfD voters. Just a few weeks ago, the citizens had placed their trust in us with a great election result (in Hesse). In some communities, we are even the strongest force, even ahead of the governing parties. For our political competitors, the house fire was obviously a welcome opportunity to inflict hatred and agitation on our party and our voters.

Almost reflexively, the SPD, the Left and the Greens classified this crime as politically motivated.

Waechtersbach’s mayor (a member of SPD), who is said to have known the affected Pakistani family to be well integrated, took the same line. At this point, we can also answer the question of what the AfD would do differently. In this case, we would raise the bar for successful integration a little higher.

Anyone who attracts attention with criminal acts in their freely chosen host country at least raises doubts about successful integration. But we now trust that the German judiciary will make an appropriate assessment. And an apology from the protagonists of the vigil is now in order.

Last year, two foreign nationals in Germany were convicted and given life sentences for an even more devastating arson attack aimed at defrauding insurers. In that case from November 2023, a father and son deliberately burned down their struggling fashion business in Eschweiler, causing an explosion that injured 17 people and resulted in millions of euros in damage.

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