German official vows culprits ‘will pay’ for arson attack
An official in Germany who worked on an investigation into the fatal arson attack on a school in Jena that caused the worst tragedy in the town’s history appealed on Wednesday for the suspected perpetrators to be prosecuted.
The German government promised to “do everything necessary” to locate and send to justice all those suspected of causing the fire at a school last week that killed five children and the local mayor, who was burned to death while in hospital.
The Jena fire was among the deadliest in Germany since the Second World War.
On Wednesday, the minister of justice, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, told a news conference: “My first thoughts are about those who committed the crime, not just who caused the fire.”
She added: “If we will need other suspects to be found, then we will find them — I will do everything possible to bring them to justice.”
Some 20,000 people gathered in the streets of Jena for the first memorial service on Saturday, and it was the largest funeral attended by mourners.
For now, the investigation into the fire, which killed eight children and three adults, is focusing on the blaze that was fuelled by a discarded cigarette on the ground in the front of the building.
A total of 12 people are being held in custody over the attack and others will be questioned shortly, a spokesman for the state prosecutor’s office, Ulrich Egger, said on Wednesday.
The investigation had been complicated by the fact that “the perpetrator was a woman [who] died in the fire last Saturday,” Egger said.
Jena is a town of 14,000, which has also been gripped by deadly mass shootings in the past 12 years.
It was at Jena’s oldest elementary school, named after the town’s founder