Probe finds arson unlikely in German fire that killed nine Turks
(dpa) - Investigators into a fire that claimed the lives of nine Turks in the German city of Ludwigshafen Tuesday all but ruled out arson as the cause.
Senior prosecutor Lothar Liebig said it was "extremely unlikely" that the fire in a rundown, century-old building had been set deliberately.
The fire had started very slowly, he told a press conference in the south-western city.
The claim by two girls that they had seen a man starting a fire had proved unreliable, and the girls had withdrawn their statement after careful probing by a trained forensic psychologist, Liebig said.
The fire, which broke out during a Sunday carnival procession in the city on February 3, provoked strong feelings among Germany's 2.4- million-strong Turkish community.
Turkish investigators joined the probe into the causes of the blaze.
A post-mortem of the victims, among them five children and a pregnant woman, showed eight had died from smoke inhalation. Another woman leaped to her death from an upper floor trying to escape the flames.
Turkish newspapers fuelled rumours of arson, reviving memories of the deaths of five Turks in the city of Solingen in 1993 after a fire had been deliberately started in their home. The previous year three Turkish women were killed in another arson attack.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Ludwigshafen days afterwards, and his visit was dominated by the fire and difficulties in relations between Germans and Turks.