German Police have launched an investigation into the murder of a 20-year-old asylum seeker from Eritrea who had been beaten and stabbed to death in Dresden, the city at the centre of protests against Islam and immigration.
The state prosecutors' office confirmed on Thursday that the man, identified as the Khaled Idris Bahray, and found dead on a street on Tuesday morning, had been a victim of a violent crime.
Police initially said there was no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death, saying on Tuesday: "Up to now there are no indications of foul play."
But in a turnaround on Thursday, Dieter Kroll, president of Dresden police ruled out the possibility that Bahray's death was accident.
|Khaled Idris Bahray, 20, was beaten and stabbed to death [Facebook]
"It is murder," he said. "We now have evidence to confirm that a stab from a knife was the cause of his injuries," Kroll said.
The police had come under pressure from local media and users on social media networks who questioned how the police had ruled out foul play so quickly after recovering the body.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said about 100 people had staged a demonstration in Dresden on Thursday when the police confirmed that Bahray had been a victim of a violent crime. The paper also quoted the city's Mayor Helma Orosz as saying she was shocked by the news.
Volker Beck, a public security spokerperson for the Green party, told the German news portal Mopo24 that he failed to "understand the negligent actions of the investigative authorities".
Member of the Green Party also said on Thursday that they had learned that two swastikas had been smeared on the door of the flat, the victim had been sharing with seven other asylum seekers since September.
German media said the man was last seen alive on Monday evening and one paper quoted a local leader in the Left party, Juliane Nagel, urging police to redouble their efforts to determine if racist violence was involved.
A record 25,000 joined the PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West) movement's latest march in Dresden on Monday. The march followed the Islamist attack on French magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
The Dresden rallies began in October as a local protest against new shelters for refugees and have attracted growing numbers of demonstrators.
Counter marches have also taken place across Germany with far larger numbers. The PEGIDA leaders deny they are racist and are careful to distinguish between extremists and most of Germany's 4 million Muslims.