Europe

Berlin truck attack: Man held who had dinner with killer Amri

A picture of Anis Amri at Brussels North station on 21 Dec (Belgian police handout) Image copyright Belgian police
Image caption Belgian police have now revealed that Amri travelled through Brussels on his way to Italy

Berlin police have detained a Tunisian man suspected of eating dinner with Anis Amri the night before he drove a lorry into a crowded Christmas market.

Twelve people died in the 19 December attack. Amri fled to Italy and was shot dead by police in Milan.

Investigators believe Bilel A, aged 26, was either involved in planning the attack or at least knew about it.

Police say they have arrested him on suspicion of benefit fraud as they do not have enough evidence against him.

Federal prosecutors' spokeswoman Frauke Koehler told reporters on Wednesday that the suspect had known Amri since the end of 2015 and that the pair had met at a restaurant on the evening before the attack and had "very intense conversations".

The suspect's home in an asylum shelter had been searched and communication devices taken away for analysis, she added. The man is believed to have used at least two false names in several German cities between April and November 2015.

A former flatmate of Amri's is also being investigated as a potential witness. Amri twice tried to contact him on 19 December, although it is unclear whether or not they spoke.

How Amri fled

Over a fortnight after the attack, German prosecutors have said there is now no doubt that 24-year-old Anis Amri was behind the attack.

And investigators across Europe have a clearer picture of what happened on the night of the attack and how Amri fled south to Italy. Police in Italy confirmed on Wednesday that the gun used by Amri to murder Polish driver Lukasz Urban was the same he fired four days later in Milan.

Shortly before the attack, Amri is thought to have gone to Friedrich-Krause-Ufer, a street where he shot dead Mr Urban. He then went to a mosque and returned to the lorry to carry out the attack on Breitscheidplatz a few miles away.

Amri was then seen on camera a short distance from the square at Zoo station, raising an index finger, a gesture linked to jihadist group Islamic State. What happens next is unclear, but it is thought that he escaped to the North Rhine-Westphalia area of western Germany.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Amri was eventually shot dead in a suburb of Milan

His final journey took him through the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Italy, exploiting the open borders of Europe's Schengen zone.

  • At 11:30 on 21 December he was seen on cameras at Nijmegen rail station in the eastern Netherlands
  • He was spotted on camera at Amsterdam rail station at around 13:30 where he took a train for Belgium
  • He arrived at Brussels North station at around 19:00 and left two hours later
  • From Brussels he travelled south to Lyon Part-Dieu station in France
  • From Lyon he took a train via Chambery to Turin and travelled on to Milan
  • He was eventually shot dead when he fired on a police patrol in the Sesto San Giovanni area of Milan

Some of Amri's story is yet to emerge. Swiss police said they too had opened an inquiry into the Berlin attack after receiving information from another police force.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Anis Amri drove the lorry into a crowded Christmas market close to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin

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