Suspect in German knife attack sent to psychiatric hospital

BERLIN — The suspect in a fatal knife attack in the German city of Wuerzburg last month has been sent to a psychiatric hospital after experts determined that it may not be possible to hold him criminally responsible for his actions, investigators said Tuesday.

The June 25 assault in and outside a store in the Bavarian city left three women dead and another five people seriously injured. The suspect, a 24-year-old Somali man, was shot in the leg by police and arrested after people surrounded him and tried to hold him at bay with chairs and sticks.

Investigators said after the attack that an Islamic extremist motivation appeared likely, since witnesses reported that the man twice shouted “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “God is great,” and he also referred to “jihad” after his arrest.

However, Bavaria’s state criminal police office and Munich prosecutors said Tuesday that after evaluating his cellphones, they found no propaganda or other extremist material, and nothing that pointed to anyone else having been involved in or known about the attack.

Experts on deradicalization and Islam are still evaluating “whether and to what extent religious convictions of the suspect might have played a role” in the attack, the investigators said in a statement.

The suspect was jailed immediately after the attack, but a local court last week ordered him provisionally moved to a psychiatric hospital after an appraisal by experts raised doubt over whether he could be held criminally responsible. He was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday. A final expert report “will take some time,” investigators said.

Prosecutors have said two other incidents earlier this year resulted in the suspect being sent briefly to a psychiatric hospital.