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September 28 - October 4 2011
By Stuart Braun in Berlin and Martin Evans DETECTIVES in Germany are trying to identify an Englishspeaking teenager who claims to have been living wild in a forest for the past five years.
The 17 year-old turned up at Berlin’s city hall saying he had been walking for two weeks but had no idea who he was or where he was from.
He told officers that he and his father moved to the forest about five years ago following the death of his mother in a car crash and had lived off the land since, sleeping in a tent and remote huts.
He said his father had died recently, following a fall, and that he had buried him in a shallow grave before setting off to find help.
Detectives said the teenager, who gave his name as Ray, spoke a little German, but his first language appeared to be English.
He was able to tell officers his name and his date of birth, but claimed not to remember either of his parents’ names or anything of his life before he entered the forest.
Despite being dishevelled, he was described as being fit and healthy and showing no signs of malnourishment or abuse.
‘I’M ALL ALONE IN THE WORLD … PLEASE HELP ME’
ALL that was certain about the teenage boy who walked into Berlin City Hall was that he spoke perfect English.
“I’m all alone in the world, I don’t know who I am. Please help me,” he told the security guards.
That was on Sept 5 and German police are still baffled as to the true identity of the boy, who is now being cared for by social services. It emerged that after telling his story to City Hall staff, the teenager was shown the door and instructed how to reach a youth support centre using public transport.
A civil servant who was the first to speak at length with the boy on his arrival at the administrative centre told The Telegraph that he was a “normal-looking teenager” but it quickly emerged that he had an extraordinary story to tell.
“He didn’t look at all like a vagrant – he didn’t smell, he was clean, his clothes were clean but he simply didn’t know anything about who he was,” she said.
Carrying a rucksack and sleeping bag, the teenager walked into the impressive building near the central Alexanderplatz at about 4pm. “He said he needed help, that he didn’t know where to go and had no one
The German police last week issued a Europe-wide appeal in the hope that someone comes forward to identify the boy, who is described as blond and blueeyed and about 5ft 11in tall. Klaus Schubert, a spokesman for the Berlin police department, said: “He can speak English very well, fluently in fact, but only speaks basic German. It might be possible that he comes from Britain because he’s speaking English very fluently.
“We only know what he told us; that he is 17 years old, and he said that he lived in the forest, that he lived together in the world to look after him. I tried to find out details about where he was from but he just didn’t know,” said the civil servant.
“He had only a few words of German but was completely fluent in English, and said that his father had told him it was an important language,” said the civil servant. “Although he seemed to be a native English speaker, I detected some sort of accent.” The boy told the woman that after his father’s death he had followed his compass north.
“He seemed calm, not scared, but quiet. He said he had been told to go to Berlin if he needed help and
Boy from the woods: a photofit of ‘Ray’, who claims to have lived in a German forest with his father with his father in the forest for the last five years, but he doesn’t know where.
“He says his father died two weeks ago, and then he travelled alone, and suddenly he was in Berlin. We don’t know how he reached the town hall. He cannot explain it.”
Police psychologists are gently asking him questions in the hope of extracting more information that will had taken several weeks to walk here,” she added.
The woman contacted child welfare services and was told to direct him to a crisis centre in another part of the city. “I printed off a map for him, wrote some instructions and told him how to buy a ticket for the U-bahn [the underground].
“He pulled some coins from his pocket and asked if it was enough and then I sent him on his way. It was the strangest encounter I’ve ever had and I do hope they can find out more about him.”
Fiona Govan offer a clue as to his origin. Despite several visits from linguistic experts, police were no closer to establishing his nationality.
Police have been unable to establish which forest the boy claims to have been living in, but it is thought he arrived in Berlin from the west.
The manager of the care home where “Ray” spent the first 10 days after seeking help from authorities described him as a “normal teenager”.
Despite claims that he lived rough in a forest, the boy soon adapted to life in a hostel with other youngsters.
“He had moments where he appeared uneasy but generally he settled in well and appeared comfortable,” said Berte Köhn, the manager of the Jugendnotdienst shelter, in Berlin’s Charlottenburg district.
He was quiet and communicated little with the other teenagers, who come from troubled backgrounds, she said, because they spoke little English and he had only a few words of German.
“But there were no problems with him and he seemed happy to be inside, to sleep in a comfortable bed and take regular showers,” she said. “He mixed with the others like a normal teenager but spoke little.”
So far his description has not matched any missingpersons report and police are searching their records for cases dating back as far as the late 1990s.
Detectives are understood to be trying to find the body of the boy’s father, but the teenager has been unable to give them any indication of where he is buried.
On Wednesday of last week, Berlin authorities made a “heartfelt” appeal for information from anyone in Britain who might know the identity of the mystery boy.
“I want to make a heartfelt request that if anyone thinks they know something to come forward with that information to help us in our work,” Angelika Schöttler, head of family services at the Tempelhof-Schöneberg district council, told The Telegraph.
By Alex Spillius in New York and Adrian Blomfield in Ramallah PALESTINIAN leaders defied threats from the United States to demand statehood from the United Nations last Friday, expressing high hopes that the Arab Spring had improved the prospects of ending Israel’s occupation. Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, was greeted by cheers and applause from a majority of delegates as he took to the podium of the UN general assembly hall in New York. “This is a moment of truth,” he said. “Our people are waiting to hear the answer of the world.
“After 63 years of ongoing catastrophe, we say enough, enough, enough. It is time for the Palestinian people to gain their freedom and independence,” he continued, referring to Israel’s creation.
“At a time when Arab peoples affirm their quest for democracy through the Arab Spring, the time has come also for the Palestinian Spring,” he said.
In response, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, repeated an invitation to Mr Abbas to meet him in New York, and said that Israel was committed to peace. “The truth is that Israel wants peace, the truth is that I want peace. The truth is that we cannot reach peace through UN resolutions but through negotiations,” he said.
A West Bank audience of thousands greeted Mr Abbas’s speech with enthusiasm. There was celebration in Ramallah’s Yasser Arafat Square, where a large crowd gathered. Mr Abbas declared that negotiations with Israel “will be meaningless”, as long as it continued building on
Palestinian land on the West Bank. Mr Abbas said he had asked Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, to expedite consideration of his request to have the UN recognise a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem based on borders in 1967, before Israel seized territory in the Six-Day War.
Two hours after Mr Abbas finished speaking, Mr Ban forwarded the bid to the UN Security Council. The council was due to meet on Monday to consider the application. Mr Netanyahu said it was time for the Palestinians to recognise that Israel was a “Jewish state”. The speeches of both leaders underlined how the two sides remain miles apart after peace talks ground to a halt three years ago, save for a brief resumption last year.
The Palestinians have said that frustration with the deadlock led them to advance their cause at the UN, where there is broad sympathy and 122 countries recognise Palestine as a state.
President Barack Obama has pledged to veto the application, arguing that only negotiation can bring a meaningful peace agreement. In that event, the Palestinians will probably seek to upgrade their status at the UN from permanent observer to nonmember observer state, which they would almost certainly be granted by the general assembly. The process could last several months. Members of the Quartet on the Middle East — the UN, US, EU and Russia — issued a timetable for talks that called on Palestinians and Israelis to meet within a month and for a peace deal to be reached by the end of next year.
Report: Page 14 Comment: Page 18
By Ben Leach and David Barrett SIX members of one family were killed last Saturday in a house fire that started with a series of explosions.
Muna El-Mufatish, 41, died along with five of her children aged between two and 14, in the blaze in Neasden, northwest London.
The only survivors were her daughter Nur, 16, who appeared to have been blown out of a first-floor window, and her husband, Bassam Kua.
Nur, a student at a Catholic sixth-form college, was in a critical condition at St Mary’s Hospital in west London.
Mr Kua, 51, was being treated for severe burns to his hands after a desperate attempt to save his family.
Neighbours said the fire started at about 1am. One who was woken by a blast said people had to restrain Mr Kua, a builder, to prevent him from re-entering the inferno.
The children who died were boys Yehya, two, Mustafa, five, and girls Amal, nine, Basma, 13, and Hanin, 14.
Mustafa was taken alive from the burning building but suffered a cardiac arrest. Abdi Osman, 47, a neighbour, told how he had sat with Mr Kua in an ambulance as paramedics tried to save his son.
The family, of Palestinian origin, came to Britain from Libya 14 years ago. They moved to the four-bedroom semi-detached house in Sonia Gardens two years ago.
Mr Kua has a business as a bathroom and kitchen fitter.
Commander Matthew Gardner of the Metropolitan Police said the blaze was not being treated as suspicious.