An Eritrean man who was once hailed as an example of successful integration in Switzerland is set to go on trial in Germany over the death of an eight-year-old boy who was thrown in front of a train last year.
Habte Araya, 41, is accused of pushing the boy and his mother onto the tracks at Frankfurt’s main station during an episode of paranoid schizophrenia.
Araya had “at least a considerably reduced ability” to control his actions, prosecutors say but could also be found to have committed murder.
The charges could be raised if he is deemed to have “deliberately exploited the victims’ defencelessness”.
At present the father of three is accused of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter, and prosecutors have applied for him to be placed in a psychiatric institution.
The mother was able to roll off the tracks and escape, but the boy was killed instantly.
Araya is also accused of attempting to push a 78-year-old woman onto the tracks, but the woman managed to survive.
He has no connection to the victims and did not have drugs or alcohol in his system, police say.
In the days after the attack, more than 100,000 euros was raised for the boy’s family, the incident also triggered a heated debate about immigration and crime in Germany.
Araya, who featured in 2017 Swiss Labour Agency brochure as an example of successful integration having secured a job as a fitter for the Zurich transport authority. He entered Germany legally though Switzerland, where he was granted asylum in 2009, police said he was on the run following a violent incident in Zurich the previous week that wasn’t flagged when he crossed the borders to Germany.