A German court sentenced an asylum seeker to eight and a half years for the murder of a teen girl, stabbed in the heart with a kitchen knife in December. The case has fueled debate on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s asylum policy.

Abdul Dawodzai, a refugee reportedly from Afghanistan, murdered 15-year-old Mia Valentin last year on December 27, stabbing her with a kitchen knife in a pharmacy. The pair had been in a short relationship, and it is understood that in a fit of jealous rage, the refugee boy stabbed his ex-girlfriend seven times in the usually quiet southwest German town of Kandel.

Dawodzai had previously been reported to police for harassment prior to the murder.The boy was tried as a minor as it is believed that he was underage at the time of the crime, but his age has been difficult to ascertain. The refugee, who entered Germany as an unaccompanied minor, says he was 15 at the time of the crime, but medical experts believe he may have been closer to 17. The maximum penalty for a minor charged with murder under German law is 10 years.

The case sparked months and months of anti-immigrant protests and counter-protests in the small German town. Kandel, with a population of around 9,000, has been inundated since the crime with protesters from both left and right-wing groups.

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