German police detained a suspected murderer, a 15-year-old German-Turkish student who allegedly stabbed the Ukrainian basketball players in the chest and stomach nine times, Bild reported on 12 February.
The police detained a 14-year-old accomplice but later released him, failing to prove the allegation.
Prosecutors have charged the 15-year-old suspect with unintentional homicide and grievous bodily harm. Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken “special control” of the investigation into the murder, said the ministry’s spokesman Oleh Nikolenko.
The suspected allegedly killed a 17-year-old member of Ukraine’s youth national basketball team, Volodymyr Yermakov, in Oberhausen, Germany, overnight on 11 February.
Yermakov had fled to Germany to escape the war in Ukraine and was attacked after an argument with local youths on a bus.
The athletes were apparently on their way to the railway station at around 8 p.m. when they got into an argument with other teenagers, likely having been provoked. At the central station, the basketball players left the bus to take a train to Düsseldorf, when they were promptly attacked, Bild reports.
Yermakov’s teammate, 18-year-old Artem Kozachenko, also suffered life-threatening injuries but survived after emergency surgery. Two other teens were seriously injured.
According to the Ukrainian Basketball Federation, the players were stabbed because of their nationality. German police and Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs do not comment on the motive of the crime.
Yermakov’s Ukrainian and German clubs mourned his loss online. “To escape the war in his native country, he moved to Düsseldorf in July 2023, where he had found his new home,” the German club, Art Giants Düsseldorf, wrote.