Young violent offenders seldom punished

Young people who commit violent crimes in Germany often go unpunished, according to a report in the newsmagazine Der Spiegel. Most cases are dropped or offenders given suspended sentences.

Young violent offenders seldom punished
Photo: dpa

According to the confidential report compiled by a working group on internal security, only 28 percent of people between the ages of 14 and 21 suspected of a violent crime actually have their cases brought to court.

In 16,000 of those cases, a sentence was handed down, although it was generally a suspended one. Of those suspects found guilty, 6,500 went to jail. Around one-third served up to a year; some 40 percent spent between one and two years behind bars. Only 1.4 percent served sentences longer than five years.

The report’s findings are due to be presented at an interior ministers’ conference in Brandenburg in mid-April. The report categorized as violent crimes aggravated assault, homicide and robbery.

The victims’ rights group White Ring criticized the high number of instances in which cases were dropped before suspects went to court.

“To victims, it’s like a slap in the face,” Veit Schiemann, spokesman for the group, told Der Spiegel.

However, he said toughening laws against youth offenders would be counterproductive, an opinion most criminologists also hold. He said existing laws and criminal procedures should be used more effectively.


German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.