Following an awkward admission earlier on Tuesday that the German police may have detained the wrong person, moments ago Reuters reported that Germany’s chief federal prosecutor office said the detained suspect in the Berlin Christmas market attack has been released, adding that he does not have enough evidence up to now to pursue case against the suspect.
“The investigation up to now did not yield any urgent suspicion against the accused,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
According to Reuters, the prosecutor’s office said the suspect had made extensive statements during a police hearing, but had denied the offence. It added it had been impossible to track the truck driver by eye-witnesses following the attack and that the investigation so far had not been able to prove that the suspect was in the truck’s cab at the time of the attack.
This is what we reported previously:
German police had detained a Pakistani refugee on Monday evening after witnesses reported seeing the driver of the truck flee the devastated market in front of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. The man taken into custody appeared to match the description supplied by the witnesses, though he denied having anything to do with the attack, Berlin police chief Klaus Kandt said.
“The driver was followed for a short way, so that we knew the beginning of the suspected escape route,” he told journalists, adding that the man in custody had been arrested close to Berlin’s Siegessäule monument barely an hour after the attack took place.
“The suspect . . . was arrested because he could match the description [we had], but he always denied any involvement,” Mr Kandt said. “It is the case that this person was not continuously under observation from the vehicle to the arrest . . . and therefore there is some uncertainty, and as a result we are of course taking enhanced precautions,” he said. “It is possible that we are dealing with a dangerous criminal.”
Mr de Maizière said the suspect was known to police for minor offences but was not on any terrorist watchlist. He said there had been no claim of responsibility. German media named the man in custody as “Naved B”, a 23-year-old Pakistani.
Tuesday afternoon, German officials were saying they weren’t certain they had the right man, and visitors and residents of the city were being urged by police to remain vigilant.
“The detained suspect is currently denying the deed,” the Berlin police posted on Twitter. “We’re especially alert as a result. Please do the same.”
Confusion remains about the co-driver. The Polish haulage company boss whose driver died in the vehicle claims a picture he saw of his driver shows that he was involved in a struggle and that he had suffered stab wounds. The police also said that the Polish man was shot. However, as The Local adds, it seems that investigators have not found gun discharge residue from a weapon on the suspect’s clothes, nor have they found blood or any signs that he was involved in a struggle. That is according to information Spiegel has from high ranking police officials. At the same time, according to DPA, blood-covered clothes were found in the vehicle, suggesting that the attacker could have changed what he was wearing after murdering the Polish driver.
In any case, as the mystery of just who is behind Monday’s tragic attack grow, the release of the primary culprit means that a massive manhunt for the suspected terrorist is about to break out. For more details see “Manhunt For Berlin “Truck Terrorist” Begins As Germany Declares “We Are In A State Of War”