German student Diren Dede killed in 'castle doctrine' case

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Diren Dede's football teammates and friends gather to remember him in Hamburg on Wednesday

The father of a German exchange student shot dead in Montana after he trespassed in a man's garage has said the US cannot continue to "play cowboy" with firearms.

Markus Kaarma has been charged with deliberate murder in the Sunday killing of Diren Dede, 17, of Hamburg.

But he says Montana's self-defence law allowed him to shoot the boy.

Celal Dede said he would not have allowed his son to study in the US had he been aware of the lenient gun laws.

"I didn't think for one night that everyone here can kill somebody just because that person entered his back yard," Mr Dede told the German news agency dpa.

Pressure authorities

Mr Dede returned to Germany from Montana on Thursday after securing the release of his son's body, a German consulate spokeswoman said.

The son of a family of Turkish immigrants to Germany, Diren was attending Big Sky High School in Missoula, Montana, for one year as part of an exchange programme.

Diren, known in Hamburg for his football skills, had only six weeks left in the programme.

Image source, AP
Image caption,
Markus Kaarma was released on $30,000 bond while he awaits trial on the murder charge

Mr Kaarma, a 29-year-old firefighter, has told investigators his home had twice been hit by burglars, and he told a hair stylist he had waited up at night to shoot intruders, prosecutors said.

On the night of the shooting, Mr Kaarma and his partner Janelle Pflager left their garage door open, and Ms Pflager left her purse in the garage in order to bait intruders, she told police.

They set up motion sensors and a video monitor, prosecutors said.

When the sensors went off just after midnight and they saw a man on the monitor screen, Mr Kaarma went outside and fired a shotgun into the garage without warning several times.

It is unclear what the teenager was doing inside in the garage.

Mr Kaarma's lawyer said his client planned to plead not guilty.

The state allows residents to protect their homes with deadly force when they believe they are going to be harmed, said his lawyer, Paul Ryan.

"We know with no question the individual entered the garage," Mr Ryan said. "Kaarma didn't know who he was, his intent or whether he was armed."

He said that there had been a spate of break-ins in the neighbourhood and Mr Kaarma did not think the police were doing anything about them.

'Castle doctrine' defence

The suspect was released on $30,000 (£17,800) bond, and has remained in his home.

Montana's so-called "castle doctrine" law was amended in 2009 to allow deadly force if a homeowner "reasonably believes" an intruder is trying to harm him or her.

Before that, residents could only use such force if the intruder acted in a violent way. The legislation was backed by the US' largest gun lobby, the National Rifle Association (NRA).

State Representative Ellie Hill told the Missoulian newspaper she has proposed legislation to repeal the 2009 amendments to the law.

"What the castle doctrine has done in this country is it has created a culture of gun violence and vigilante justice," Ms Hill, a Democrat who represents Missoula, said.

"And it's created a culture that it's okay to shoot first and ask questions later."

Diren will be buried in Turkey, his family said. His football team in Hamburg, SC Teutonia 1910, played a charity match on Wednesday to help the family pay for the funeral.

Diren's friends and family in Germany expressed sorrow following his death.

"We had spoken on the phone just one day before," a friend told local media. "He had the best year of his life in America."

Another friend attended the charity football match organised for Diren's funeral.

"What happened is a sad story, and with this we want to show that we're all with him and won't forget him," the friend said.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Diren Dede played on the SC Teutonia 1910 football club in Hamburg

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