German authorities apologize for mistaken jailing of Syrian

BERLIN (AP) — Authorities in western Germany are apologizing for mistakenly jailing a Syrian man who died following a fire in his cell after more than two months in custody.

North Rhine-Westphalia state’s interior minister, Herbert Reul, said Friday that police officers failed to check the 26-year-old’s identity carefully enough when he was arrested in July over an unpaid fine for theft. Authorities were actually seeking a Malian man who had used the Syrian’s name as a pseudonym.

News agency dpa reported that Reul apologized to the man’s family and said “we must do everything so that a case like this is not repeated.”

The Syrian suffered severe burns in a fire that broke out in his cell in mid-September and died two weeks later. Officials last week said he’d been wrongly jailed.