A father and son accused of injuring 17 people when they intentionally burned down their poorly performing fashion business to claim on the insurance are standing trial in Germany.
Both are charged with 13 counts of attempted murder, among other counts of grievous bodily harm, and arson.
The regional court in Aachen heard how the son, 22-year-old Karsan K., poured 13 liters of gasoline into the fashion store in Eschweiler back in March this year and set it on fire, causing a mass explosion that left dozens injured.
The store was a terraced building with residential apartments above other commercial outlets on both sides. The detonation destroyed 28 properties, five cars, and goods from 12 neighboring shops, according to WDR.
It was reported that the resulting inferno and a blast radius of 50 meters resulted in four people being hospitalized in critical condition. A mother and her two-month-old baby were injured in the blast.
Firefighters initially suspected the fire was a result of a gas explosion, however, a further investigation led to suspicions of foul play.
According to the public prosecutor’s office, the explosion caused damage estimated at €2.3 million, and the owners of the store sought to claim €100,000 from their insurers.
“It is entirely due to chance that no other people were significantly injured or suffered fatal injuries as a result of the act, especially flying parts of the building, glass or metal splinters,” the indictment read.
At the trial, the son has remained silent, however, his 56-year-old father, known as Sherwan K., has proclaimed his own innocence and accused his son of acting alone.
With the help of an interpreter, the older defendant incriminated his son, insisting he had simply rented the store to the younger defendant and didn’t have a key for it. He claimed not to have been on the premises at any point in the lead-up to the explosion.
“No one accuses him of being present when the crime was actually carried out,” the father’s defense attorney, Rainer Dietz, told the court.
“The prosecution says he was the head of the family. He has authority. Nobody does anything against their will or without their will. And from this, one concludes that he must have been the driving force. The evidence will not prove that,” he added.
The trial has also focused on the complex relationship between an extensive Islamic family. The father is understood to be married to three women across Germany. Local media also reported that both defendants are drug addicts.
A verdict by the court is expected on Jan. 5.