BERLIN — A German court has convicted an Iraqi man of raping and murdering a teenage girl, and sentenced him to life in prison, a year after the case fueled far-right protests across the country and prompted anger at the government’s handling of rejected asylum claims.
The court in Wiesbaden, in western Germany, ruled on Tuesday that the crime committed by the Iraqi, Ali Bashar, 22, was especially egregious, making it less likely that he will ever be paroled. Mr. Bashar had confessed to killing the girl, Susanna Feldmann, 14, but had denied raping her.
Mr. Bashar and his family arrived in Germany in 2015 — along with more than 1 million others, many from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria — and applied for asylum. His claim was rejected the following year, but he was allowed to remain in the country.
The case outraged opposition politicians, especially members of the far-right Alternative for Germany, who cited it as evidence that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government had lost control over the refugees who had poured into the country.
In his ruling, Judge Jürgen Bork told Mr. Bashar that he had not displayed any indication of true remorse and that his apology to Ms. Feldmann’s mother could not be taken seriously. “Your words did not reach the panel of judges, or anyone in this court,” he said.
The victim’s mother, Diana Feldmann, drew attention to the case last year by chronicling her anguished search for her daughter on Facebook, after the girl went missing on May 22, 2018. Several weeks later, her daughter’s body was found buried under brush in a secluded area near railway tracks close to her hometown, Mainz, also in western Germany.
“I have already received a life sentence, although I am not guilty,” Ms. Feldmann wrote in a letter to her daughter’s killer that was cited in the German newspaper Bild. “What was done to my daughter can never be forgiven.”
Ordinarily, a person sentenced to life in prison in Germany can be eligible for parole in as little as 15 years, with good behavior. But the finding that Mr. Bashar’s actions were particularly egregious meant that he could not qualify for release that early, no matter how he conducts himself, and it makes it more difficult for him to gain parole later on.
Mr. Bashar fled to Iraq after the murder. Using his personal contacts with the Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq, the president of Germany’s federal police, Dieter Romann, was able to secure the suspect’s return to Germany.
In a separate case, Mr. Bashar and a 14-year-old Afghan refugee stand accused of raping an 11-year-old girl. That case is being tried in juvenile court and is ongoing.