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.”


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.