Youth services admits failure in toddler’s death by neglect

The youth services office in the Bavarian town of Tirschenreuth on Tuesday admitted on partial responsibility in the case of a two-year-old girl whose mother allowed her to starve to death.

Youth services admits failure in toddler's death by neglect
The family home in Tirschenreuth. Photo: DPA

Though it went against procedure, the office did not follow up on a telephone tip from a neighbour about the girl’s situation, district youth services official Josef Hecht said.

“The personnel decided there was no acute danger to the children and therefore did not react,” he said, adding that this was a terrible mistake.

The neighbour reportedly called about six months ago to say the then two-year-old girl and her six-year-old brother no longer went out to play in the building’s yard, but instead could only be seen from their windows. The woman also reported that the children’s grandfather, who lived nearby, was most often seen caring for the children in the town near the Czech border.

On Saturday the girl’s 21-year-old mother found the child, identified as Lea, dead in her bed and alarmed emergency services.

An autopsy showed that Lea had suffered malnutrition, dehydration and various other illnesses.

“One could have, and should have done something,” senior public prosecutor Gerd Schäfer said.

Eyewitnesses described the family’s apartment as “extremely neglected” and “trashed” in the local daily Weidener Zeitung.

Lea’s mother is now in police custody after they issued a warrant for her arrest in an investigation for manslaughter.

So far investigators believe that Lea’s condition worsened over the course of days or a few weeks, but they have refused to speculate on what may have caused her mother’s neglect.

The woman reportedly separated from Lea’s 27-year-old father some months ago, but he is not a suspect in the case.

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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.