German police have detained a 26-year-old Tunisian man over links with the perpetrator of an Islamist truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market that killed 12 people, a federal prosecutors' spokeswoman said on Wednesday.
Police on Tuesday evening searched the living quarters of the man identified as Bilel A. after he was found to have had dinner with Anis Amri a day before Amri steered a truck through the market on Dec. 19, spokeswoman Frauke Koehler said.
"This contact person is a 26-year-old Tunisian. We are investigating him for possible participation in the attack," she told reporters.
She said that "communications devices" seized in Tuesday's search are being evaluated, but federal prosecutors do not currently have enough evidence to seek an arrest warrant against him.
The man was, however, detained Tuesday in a separate case run by Berlin local prosecutors, Koehler said. Berlin prosecutors said the arrest was for allegedly falsely claiming benefits.
A further search was conducted Tuesday at the home of a one-time roommate of Amri who is being treated as a witness in the case, Koehler said.
Amri, a 24-year-old Tunisian, tried to reach the former roommate on the morning and afternoon of Dec. 19, but it isn't clear whether they actually spoke, she added.
Investigators say Amri drove the truck that plowed into a Christmas market in central Berlin. Twelve people were killed — including the truck's regular Polish driver, whose body was found in the cab after the attack.
Koehler said that the Polish driver apparently was fatally shot before the truck set off for the market from its parking place north of central Berlin. She said investigations have shown "no indications that there was a third person in the cab at the time of the attack."
Germany on Dec. 21 released a Europe-wide wanted notice for Amri, who used a string of different names and nationalities. He was killed in a shootout Dec. 23 with Italian police in a Milan suburb after they stopped him for a routine identity check.
Surveillance footage from the Zoologischer Garten station, a few minutes' walk from the Christmas market, appears to show Amri shortly after the attack, Koehler said.
The pictures "suggest that Amri was aware that he was being recorded by this video camera," she said. She added that he turned to the camera and raised his index finger — an gesture sometimes used by Daesh members.
The Daesh terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the attack days afterward.
On Dec. 21, footage from cameras in the Netherlands suggests that he was at the railway station in Nijmegen and about two hours later at the station in Amsterdam, Koehler said.
Belgian authorities said that he also spent two hours at the Brussels North station coming from Amsterdam. He then traveled to Italy via France.
Italian investigations say that the weapon Amri used to shoot at a policeman in Milan is identical to the one used on the Polish truck driver in Berlin, Koehler said. Investigators are still trying to figure out how he got hold of it, but that's difficult because manufacturer Erma went bankrupt at the end of the 1990s, she added.
Amri, who had previously spent time in prison in Italy, arrived in Germany in July 2015. German authorities tried last year to deport him to Tunisia after his asylum application was rejected.
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