Berlin (AFP) - A German man accused of sexually abusing and killing a four-year-old Bosnian refugee has admitted murdering another child, police said Friday, as investigators probed possible links to other missing children.
"The man confessed overnight that he had also killed Elias," said Berlin police spokesman Stefan Redlich, referring to a six-year-old German boy who had been missing since July.
Investigators found human remains in a garden allotment in Luckenwalde, around 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of Berlin, after the man identified as Silvio S. told police Elias's corpse was buried there, though tests will be needed to confirm the identity.
The suspect was arrested on Thursday after his mother told police he may have been involved in the kidnapping of the Bosnian boy, named Mohamed.
Police later found the body of a child packed in cat litter inside the suspect's car, which appeared to have been dead for some time.
An eight-hour autopsy confirmed the body was that of Mohamed, prosecutors said on Friday.
The boy had been missing since October 1, when his mother took him and his sisters to Berlin's main refugee registration centre, Lageso, which receives hundreds of asylum seekers daily.
His disappearance triggered a massive police operation, with the missing child's photo appearing regularly on television screens in Berlin's subway trains.
Police also released CCTV footage of a bearded man leading a child who was holding a stuffed toy.
But the search turned out to be futile as the boy "was already dead on October 2, the day after his kidnapping," the police spokesman said.
In southern Germany more than 250 people were searching for a young Iraqi boy who became separated from his father after entering the country with a people-smuggler.
- Choked with belt -
Forensic investigators found signs of strangulation on Mohamed's neck, prosecutor Michael von Hagen said Thursday, adding that the accused had admitted using a belt to choke the child to death.
The man, who worked as a security guard in Berlin, admitted taking Mohamed from the refugee centre to his flat where he sexually abused him, von Hagen said.
But when the child began screaming, the suspect killed him to prevent anyone from hearing, before covering the body in cat litter to hide any odor, the prosecutor said.
Mohamed's family has been living in Germany for more than a year and on the day of his kidnapping, the mother had gone to the registration centre to obtain her social allowances, according to local media.
As Germany gears up to receive up to one million asylum seekers this year, Berlin's Lageso has seen lengthy queues of migrants waiting to be registered and often chaotic scenes.
Fights have broken out at the centre among migrants frustrated by the long waits and a lack of information filtering down from authorities.
Large numbers of people also bring donations for refugees including clothes or food to the sprawling site which is spread across several buildings.
According to police, the suspect said he had gone to Lageso to drop off donations.
Police are now examining whether the suspect is linked to other cases of missing children.
Winfrid Wenzel, head of the probe into Mohamed's disappearance, said officers were "in close contact" with counterparts in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, where a five-year-old girl has been missing since May 2.