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CRIME

Signs of violence found on frozen German babies

Autopsies found signs of violence on the bodies of two of the three dead babies found in a freezer in the basement of a German home, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Signs of violence found on frozen German babies
A memorial outside the home in Wenden. Photo: DPA

One of the bodies showed clear indications of external trauma that could direct the course of the investigation. Those injuries were also likely the cause of death, prosecutor Johannes Daheim told reporters in the city of Olpe on Wednesday. The babies did not freeze to death, Daheim said.

Daheim said police did not want to release more information until the 44-year-old mother of the children could be questioned. She was put under psychiatric supervision after being taken into custody on Sunday and remains unfit for questioning, he said.

Two of the woman’s grown children found the three babies’ bodies wrapped in plastic bags underneath a stack of expired food in the basement freezer of the family’s rural home in Wenden, a town in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The first baby autopsied on Tuesday showed no signs of violence, Daheim said. All three babies were born alive and without disabilities; one baby was slightly premature. Investigators are conducting genetic tests in coming days to confirm the woman’s 47-year-old husband was the father, police president Diethard Jungermann said.

Family and neighbors have said they had no idea the woman, who is overweight, was pregnant. The case is the latest in a series of grisly infanticides that have shocked Germany.

Sentence in other infanticide case

Another such incident came to an end on Wednesday, when a German court jailed a mother for nine months for manslaughter in the deaths of three newborn babies.

The court in the eastern city of Erfurt said the now 22-year-old woman gave birth to two healthy girls and a boy in 2002, 2004 and 2005 and then left them to die.

The defendant, whose name was not released by the court, had testified that the children were stillborn.

Defence attorneys pleaded for a suspended sentence of two years while state prosecutors called for a 10-year jail term.

The decomposed corpses of the three newborns were discovered in January 2007 at a property once belonging the defendant’s parents in the town of Thoerey.

The new owners of the property found the remains packed away in plastic bags and cardboard boxes in a garage.

In the most notorious case of child deaths in Germany in recent years, a woman was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2006 for manslaughter of eight of her babies.

She had hid their remains in buckets and flower pots as well as in an old fish tank at her parents’ home.

Last November, a 35-year-old woman from Erfurt was sentenced to 12 years in jail for killing two of her babies and hiding their bodies in a freezer.

In December 2007, a woman was arrested after police found the bodies of five children aged between three and nine years in a house in Darry, near the northern city of Kiel.

The same week a woman was arrested in Plauen in eastern Germany on suspicion of killing three newborn babies she had borne. The infants were discovered in a trunk in the cellar, on the balcony and in a refrigerator.

Last Saturday, a dead baby was found in a ditch in the eastern state of Saxony.

The cases have prompted many hospitals to install so-called ‘Babyklappen,’ hatches for mothers to anonymously deposit infants for care when they believe they are unable to raise them themselves.

dpa/afp

GERMANY AND ISRAEL

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.

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