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CRIME

Mother guilty of killing and freezing babies

A German mother was sentenced to more than four years in jail on Monday for killing two of her babies, whose bodies she stashed in the family freezer. She was not tried in connection with a third baby, also found in the freezer, who died over 20 years ago because the statute of limitations on the case had expired.

Mother guilty of killing and freezing babies
Monika Halbe entering court at the start of the trial. Photo: DPA

44-year-old housewife Monika Halbe was handed a four year and three month prison sentence for manslaughter after admitting to hiding the bodies of three baby girls in the family freezer. However, she denied killing them.

The macabre case made national headlines in May after the defendant’s teenage son discovered the girls’ tiny corpses in plastic bags when looking for a pizza in the basement freezer.

Prosecutors had demanded eight and half years in prison for Halbe at the start of the trial in this western town. Halbe’s lawyer Andreas Bartholome had asked that his client be acquitted or given a suspended jail sentence, noting that Halbe, who already had three children, had been deeply ambivalent about having more babies and was also terrified of doctors and had suffered from alcoholism.

Prosecutors charged her with two counts of manslaughter for killing one daughter in 1988 and another between 2003 and 2007. A third girl is believed to have been killed in 1986 or 1987.

“She was not afraid of the babies being found,” Bartholome said. “Above all, she wanted to have the babies near her.” Halbe’s husband and the family’s three grown children said they had been unaware of the pregnancies. The grim case revived a debate about the state of child welfare in Germany after several high-profile cases of killings by mothers came to light.

CRIME

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.

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