Suspect in German stabbing that sparked protests was slated for deportation

One of two immigrants arrested for the fatal stabbing of a German man could have been deported in mid-2016, a German court says — news that risked fuelling outrage from far-right groups about a case that has already sparked xenophobic protests.

Far-right seizes on case as proof country's open door policy let in criminals, terrorists

Thousands of far-right protesters gathered in Chemnitz, eastern Germany, on Monday after a man died in hospital following what police called a 'dispute between several people of different nationalities.' A court confirmed Friday that one of the men charged in the incident could have been deported two years ago. (Filip Singer/EPA-EFE)

One of two immigrants arrested for the fatal stabbing of a German man could have been deported in mid-2016, a German court said on Friday — news that risked fuelling outrage from far-right groups about a case that has already sparked xenophobic protests.

The court in Chemnitz, the eastern city where the stabbing occurred, said Yousif Ibrahim Abdullah could have been deported two years ago to Bulgaria where he first applied for asylum, but authorities missed a six-month deadline to do so.

Anti-migrant groups and far-right extremists have seized on the case as proof that Chancellor Angela Merkel's open door policy let in criminals and terrorists, with fake news reports and a leaked arrest warrant further inflaming the mood.

The anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) and PEGIDA parties plan to march again Saturday in Chemnitz to "mourn Daniel H. and the others killed by Germany's forced multiculturalization," according to the local AfD chapter.

Hundreds of anti-immigration protesters chanting "Resistance!" demonstrated in Chemnitz on Thursday after a series of violent confrontations that followed the killing of the 35-year old German carpenter.

The stabbing victim's surname has not been disclosed and police have given few details of the killing itself but say the incident began with a verbal altercation.

Candles and flowers are seen at the scene of the stabbing on Thursday night. (Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters)

Protests began hours after the killing on Sunday and turned violent, with crowds of skinheads filmed chasing foreign-looking people through the streets. Larger protests were held on Monday.

The German Soccer League said a second division soccer match between Dynamo Dresden and Hamburger SV on Saturday has been cancelled as the police in Saxony, the province that includes Chemnitz, needed all available personnel for protests.

Many Germans have recoiled at the anti-migrant violence that has occurred since the stabbing. The chief federal prosecutor's office said it had begun a preliminary probe into whether the rapid mobilization of far-right protesters revealed an organized network.

Wake-up call for government

Saxony premier's Michael Kretschmer said the failure to deport the stabbing suspect, a 21-year-old Iraqi man with multiple previous convictions, was the responsibility of federal authorities. A 22-year-old Syrian suspect was also arrested.

Family Affairs Minister Franziska Giffey laid flowers at the scene of the crime on Friday, the first member of Merkel's cabinet to visit after the incident that has laid bare deep divisions over a 2015 decision to welcome over a million mostly Muslim migrants.

She said the unrest that followed the stabbing was a wake-up call for the federal government to pay attention to public concerns, and suggested an additional cabinet minister or Merkel herself could visit the city at a later point.

Minister for Family Affairs Franziska Giffey became the first member of the German cabinet to visit a makeshift memorial to the 35-year-old victim of the stabbing last week. The incident has laid bare deep divisions in the country over a 2015 decision to welcome over a million mostly Muslim migrants. (Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters)

Chemnitz Mayor Barbara Ludwig said she hoped the situation would result in long overdue attention to the disparities that still divide Germans in the former East and West.

"In that way, something good can come from this very difficult situation," she said.

A new poll for broadcaster ZDF showed 76 per cent of Germans see far-right extremists as posing a danger to German democracy.

But AfD Leader Alexander Gauland rejected that view and said it was "legitimate" for Germans to feel angry after such a crime.

He criticized politicians and the media for branding all the protesters as far-right extremists and said his party did not condone the dozen Hitler salutes reported at Monday's rally.

Far-right demonstrators hold a banner that reads 'Criminal foreigners out' during protests in Chemnitz on Monday. (Matthias Rietschel/Reuters)

Gauland said AfD chapters in Saxony and two other states would convene a march on Saturday to mourn the victim, and criticized state police for losing control of Monday's protests, which drew some 6,000 supporters.

Kretschmer told German broadcaster ARD on Friday that the AfD — which won nearly 13 per cent of the vote in last year's federal election — bore some blame for the riots after it "used very warlike language to call people to take to the streets."