BERLIN: A 13-year-old Russian-German girl who ignited an international row after saying she was raped by migrants was actually sleeping at a friend’s house on the night in question, Berlin prosecutors said on Friday.
Authorities in the German capital said their investigation had concluded that the account of the girl’s kidnapping and sexual assault this month by three men from “southern countries” had no basis in fact, despite high-level Russian claims to the contrary.
“Using data from her broken mobile phone, we were able to access information about a young German man aged 19 — an acquaintance of the 13-year-old girl,” prosecutor’s office spokesperson Martin Steltner told AFP.
“The young girl wanted to hide at his house because she was having problems in school.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had said Moscow initially heard about the incident “not from Germany’s official structures but from the Russian-speaking community, then from the family’s lawyer.”
On Tuesday he tried to lend credence to the girl’s allegations by saying that she had disappeared “absolutely for sure” against her will and that details of the incident had “been hidden.”
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Wednesday accused Lavrov of “exploiting” the case of the girl, named as Liza by Russia, and “inflaming” an already heated national debate about migrants.
The incident has exacerbated tensions between Germany and Russia over the conflict in Syria and European Union sanctions imposed on Moscow over Ukraine.
German police last week rejected the teenager’s account but nevertheless passed the case to the prosecutor’s office.
Berlin prosecutors said there was no evidence that the girl was forced to have sexual relations but opened a probe against at least one man on possible statutory rape charges since she was under the age of consent (14 in Germany).
Steltner said Friday that investigators now believe that the girl had had sex with two men in their 20s, “a Turkish citizen and a German of Turkish origin” who may now be charged with abusing a minor.