Killing of taxi driver in Frankfurt under investigation
Stars and Stripes October 19, 2004
WIESBADEN, Germany — German authorities are investigating the killing of a taxi driver of Pakistani descent who apparently accepted his last fare just outside the gates of Wiesbaden Army Air Field.
The death of Ahmad Abdul Jamil Bhatti on the night of Oct. 8 in Frankfurt so moved area taxi drivers that last Friday about 300 taxicabs joined the funeral procession in a show of solidarity.
Bhatti, 42, died from multiple stab wounds to the chest and head, according to Doris Möller- Scheu, a spokeswoman for the Frankfurt prosecutor’s office.
“The [drivers] from Pakistan and Afghanistan,” said Siegfried Petry, a German cabbie, “they don’t go anymore to the air base, because they are worried. They are thinking, ‘This could happen to me, too.’”
But by Monday afternoon some had returned, drawn to the airfield where a fare to downtown Wiesbaden can easily bring them $20 or more.
“Most of the time the customers are soldiers,” Petry said.
German investigators are reviewing videotapes taken by surveillance cameras mounted in buildings near where Bhatti was slain in Frankfurt, Möller-Scheu said. The dead-end street is laced with security cameras because a large bank has its offices there.
In addition, U.S. Army criminal investigators are said to be aiding German authorities in the investigation. While there is no direct evidence linking any American to the crime, the fact that Bhatti’s last fare originated from the airfield has authorities interested in surveillance tapes positioned just outside the front gate, where Bhatti was parked.
“We can’t say [Americans are involved] just now,” Möller- Scheu said. “We have only the hint. We know the last fare was from there, but there are other possibilities.”
Bhatti had been driving a cab in the Wiesbaden area for four years, according to his brother, who asked that his name not be used. The younger sibling said his brother liked Americans, and often, like so many other taxi drivers, gravitated to the airfield for the lucrative fares.
“He was a very nice and cool-headed person,” Bhatti’s brother said during an interview at his home Monday. “He was not against Americans.”
The brother said it’s possible that Bhatti picked up another fare after the airfield, but, based on what other cabbies said, the timeline doesn’t fit.
“I’m sure [the killer] was American,” the brother said. “We’re not against Americans. We are personally against terrorism, any kind of terrorism, any kind.”
Bhatti is survived by his wife and four children.
A reward of 6,000 euros is being offered to anyone with information that leads to an arrest in the case. The phone number to call is: 069-755-54210.