A 28-year-old man who died on Saturday after an altercation with two US soldiers at a local amusement fair in western Germany had been fatally stabbed multiple times, according to autopsy results released on Monday.
Authorities say the man got into “a scuffle” during an argument in the early hours of Saturday morning at a fair in Wittlich, a town located about halfway between the city of Trier and the border with Luxembourg.
The victim was allegedly attacked by two off-duty United States soldiers during the scuffle, according to German police. The autopsy found multiple knife wounds in his upper body.
“He ultimately bled to death,” senior prosecutor Manfred Stemper said on Monday.
The two suspects in the attack, aged 25 and 26, were handed over to US military law enforcement authorities following their arrest as called for under agreements that regulate NATO troop deployments in allied countries.
Both suspects will remain jailed in US custody until the investigation is complete, according to a statement from the US Spangdahlem Air Base, located about 20 kilometres from Wittlich.
The Office of Special Investigations (OSI), the airbase’s investigative agency, has taken over the investigation, according to local police.
Stemper, the prosecutor, said the motive behind the attack, as well as what sparked the initial quarrel, remained “completely unclear.”
Neither suspect had admitted to the crime and one of the men claimed not to remember the incident, Stemper said. Both soldiers had visited the fair with friends.
Stemper said investigators are still trying to determine whether a knife found in the nearby Lieser river was used in the stabbing. According to police, forensic analysis of several pieces of potential evidence remains ongoing.
“This is certainly an intolerable and preventable tragedy in our peaceful community,” Colonel Kevin Crofton, the commander of the US 52nd Fighter Wing, said in a statement, according to the US military newspaper Stars & Stripes.
“We thank the local police and the Wittlich town leadership for their partnership and patience as the investigation runs its course,” Crofton said.
The fatal stabbing cast a dark shadow over the town’s traditional “Säubrennerkirmes” fair, whose name references folk tales surrounding a medieval siege of the town.
The fair attracts visitors from around Germany, with up to 100,000 people expected to attend this year’s event.