World Bulletin / News Desk
The Pakistani man wrongly arrested for the Berlin truck attack on Friday said he had told German police he could not even drive and was now afraid for the safety of his family back home.
Naveed Baloch, an asylum-seeker from the troubled province of Balochistan, told the Guardian newspaper he had just left a friend's house and was crossing a street when he saw a police car approaching fast and picked up his pace.
He said he was arrested and taken to a police station, where he was undressed and photographed.
"When I resisted, they started slapping me," the 24-year-old, who has been living in a secret location provided by police since his release because he says he is afraid for his life, told the British daily.
Baloch, who sought refuge in Germany as a member of a secular separatist movement in Balochistan, said he struggled to communicate because no translator could be found who could speak his native Balochi.
"I calmly told them I cannot drive at all. Neither can I even start a vehicle," he said.
Baloch was arrested on December 19 in the hours after the attack on a Christmas market in the heart of Berlin in which 12 people were killed.
Police released him 24 hours later, after failing to find evidence of his involvement.
German authorities have since identified rejected Tunisian asylum-seeker Anis Amri as the prime suspect in the Berlin attack.
Amri was shot dead by Italian police on December 23 after fleeing a manhunt in Germany.
Following the publication of the Guardian interview, Berlin police strongly denied that Baloch had been assaulted.
In a statement, police said they had asked Baloch about the allegations on Friday and that he "clearly stated he had not been beaten, injured or mistreated while in custody".
The statement also noted that there was no professional translator present during the Guardian interview.
But the newspaper's correspondent Kate Connolly later said on Twitter that "we @theguardian stand by our story on Naveed Baloch."
"It was an interview that took place over three hours and of which I have a recording," she added.
Baloch, a shepherd by profession, told the daily that members of his family in the village of Mand in Balochistan in southwest Pakistan had received threatening phone calls following his arrest.
"Now they all know I fled to Germany, fearful of my life, and that I am claiming asylum here. It leaves my family very vulnerable and there's nothing I can do to protect them," he told the Guardian.
Baloch said he left Pakistan around a year ago, arriving in Germany via Iran, Turkey and Greece, because of death threats he had received for his activism for the Baloch National Movement.
"Most of the people I worked with have been arrested and killed. I knew it was a matter of time before they came for me. That's the reason I came to Germany," he said.
afpLast Mod: 31 Aralık 2016, 08:55