German parents on trial for starving their daughter

Court proceedings began on Tuesday against the parents of the 5-year-old German girl known as Lea-Sophie, who died of starvation and neglect in November 2007.

German parents on trial for starving their daughter
Photo: DPA

“There is no worse punishment for a person than the loss of a daughter,” said the girl’s 26-year-old father at during a press conference before the trial began in Schwerin. “I have failed as a father.”

Prosecutors from the northern German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania accuse the parents, who live from welfare benefits, of having been “merciless” and “unfeeling” to their daughter. They are charged with murder by neglect. Prosecutors say Lea-Sophie didn’t get enough to eat or drink after the birth of her brother in September 2007.

When she was hospitalized shortly before her death, she only weighed 7.4 kilogrammes, just half of what a healthy child her age should. An autopsy showed that she died of starvation, dehydration and painful ulcers.

Lea-Sophie’s father claims that he had left most of the responsibility for his daughter up to the girl’s 24-year-old mother, and he called the ambulance against her will after they found the her unresponsive upon returning home from a walk with her 2-month-old brother and the two family dogs.

According to police investigation, the infant boy, the apartment, and the house pets were all well cared for by the couple. The parents allegedly abused the child and left her on her own. But several reports to child services were reportedly only met with half-hearted reactions by the authorities.

Prosecutors said the already chronically malnourished girl’s situation worsened dramatically after her brother was born. Her father confirmed that she reacted to the birth with behavioral problems, refusing food and throwing toys at her brother.

“All appeals to her reason were unfruitful,” her father said. “I hoped that things would get better on their own.”


Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.