Germany mourns student killed after defending teens

Mourners in Germany stepped up their calls on Monday for the state to honour a young woman who was killed after defending two teenage girls from a group of aggressors at a fast food restaurant.

AFP| Updated: Dec 02, 2014, 05:28 AM IST

Berlin: Mourners in Germany stepped up their calls on Monday for the state to honour a young woman who was killed after defending two teenage girls from a group of aggressors at a fast food restaurant.

A petition on the website change.org had collected 150,000 signatures by Monday evening calling for Turkish student Tugce Albayrak to awarded a German Federal Cross of Merit, the highest civilian commendation for service to the nation. 

After a series of demonstrations and vigils this weekend across the country in Albayrak`s honour, a tribute page on Facebook had gathered almost 170,000 "likes".

Her death even drew the condolences of President Joachim Gauck, who told the woman`s family that Albayrak "will always be an example" and she had "won our gratitude and our respect."

Though the young woman died Friday -- her 23rd birthday -- Albayrak had been hospitalised since a violent confrontation overnight on November 14 in a McDonald`s restaurant car park near Frankfurt.

She was in the restaurant in Offenbach sitting at a table with friends when she heard screaming coming from the toilets and went to help.

Albayrak found two intoxicated teens being harassed by a group of people and intervened, which prompted the assailants to turn on her, the investigation has revealed.

A few minutes later while in the car park a man violently struck her in the head and knocked her to the ground. The injury left her in a coma from which she never emerged.

Using video surveillance footage police identified and arrested an 18-year-old man in connection with attack. German newspaper Bild reported the suspect confessed to hitting Albayrak but claimed it was "just a slap".

Bild also published images on its website Monday that it said showed the assault in the car park as a dozen people stood nearby. Police, however, refused to authenticate the footage.

Preliminary autopsy results concluded Albayrak`s death was linked to a "blunt shock" to the head, but investigators haven`t said whether it was due to the attacker hitting her or the subsequent fall.