Germany's public broadcaster ARD came under fire Tuesday, accused of ignoring a rape-murder case in which an Afghan refugee is the top suspect for fear of fueling anti-migrant sentiment.

The top-ranking evening news programme, Tagesschau, had on Saturday decided not to report on the arrest of the 17-year-old Afghan asylum seeker over the alleged killing of a 19-year-old medical student named as Maria L.

Responding to a wave of online criticism, ARD chief news editor Kai Gniffke said that the national edition of the programme reports "very rarely on individual criminal cases" and focuses mainly on "events of societal, national or international relevance".

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