Days after a foreigner killed a young boy by pushing him and his mother under a train, the German interior minister has recommended stricter checks at the country’s Swiss border and advanced security measures at all rail stations.
“I will do everything in order to put intelligent controls in place on the border,” Horst Seehofer told Spiegel magazine in a follow-up to the harrowing incident at Frankfurt station, in which a 40-year-old Eritrean man assaulted an eight-year-old boy and his mother.
The immigrant, believed to have lived in Switzerland since 2006, pushed the pair onto the tracks seconds before a high-speed train, the Intercity Express, arrived.
The mother managed to roll out of harm’s way but her child was killed. The attacker then attempted to flee the station but was pursued by a group of passengers and was eventually apprehended by police outside the Frankfurt terminal.
Now, Seehofer wants to introduce “occasional, temporary checks at the border with Switzerland” to screen foreigners. Both Germany and Switzerland are in the visa-free Schengen area, but travelers crossing their border aren’t subjected to any controls.
The issue needs to be dealt with immediately, Seehofer warned, mentioning that a total of 43,000 unauthorized arrivals had been registered in Germany last year. The conservative politician was once at odds with Angela Merkel over imposing limits on incoming immigrants, but this time the Chancellor “is fully on my side on the issues of security.”
Border checks aside, Seehofer also urges ramping up security at railway stations. He didn’t expand on that but said it could involve installing safety barriers or locks on the platforms – similar to those already in use in London and Paris. Such countermeasures could potentially cost billions of Euros, the minister acknowledged
The Frankfurt tragedy re-ignited a heated migration debate that reached its climax back in 2015 and 2016, when Germany opened its borders to hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers – mostly from the Middle East and Africa. The heavy influx of migrants saw the crime rate going up and also led to the resurgence of the far-right extremists ready to use violence against foreigners and “pro-refugee” politicians.