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Child murderer awarded damages for police threat

The Local · 4 Aug 2011, 13:45

Published: 04 Aug 2011 12:17 GMT+02:00
Updated: 04 Aug 2011 13:45 GMT+02:00

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In a ruling that sparked outrage, the regional court in the state of Hesse found that the "human dignity" of Magnus Gäfgen had been violated during questioning in 2002 over the disappearance of a banker's 11-year-old son.

The police believed at the time that the abducted child, Jakob von Metzler, could still be alive after his parents paid a €1-million ransom to Gäfgen.

It emerged later that the boy, whose family owns one of Germany's oldest private banks, was already dead at the time of the interrogation. Gäfgen was convicted in 2003 of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

In awarding Gäfgen €3,000 plus interest, presiding judge Christoph Hefter said the killer had been the victim of "serious rights violations" that could not be rectified under German law without the payment of compensation.

"With this ruling, it is entirely insignificant and may not be considered that the plaintiff committed a crime," he said. "Human dignity may not be denied to a person, even if this is difficult in light of the crime the plaintiff committed."

Gäfgen, 36, had demanded €10,000 for pain and suffering as well as other damages, saying he had been threatened with "torture" and was still suffering from psychological trauma.

The policeman who questioned him and his senior officer were convicted in 2004 and fined but their sentences were suspended.

The European Court of Human Rights had last year ruled that Gäfgen had been subjected to "inhumane treatment."

During his trial, Gäfgen confessed that he had abducted Jakob, whose family controls the Metzler private bank in Frankfurt, on September 27, 2002, as the boy made his way home from school.

Gäfgen, who was known to the Metzler family, described how he lured the boy to his flat and then bound his mouth and nose with adhesive bandages.

When the boy stopped moving after Gäfgen pushed on his face with his hands, he immersed the child in water in a bathtub to ensure that he was dead.

The Metzlers paid the ransom demanded by Gäfgen, but their son's body was recovered from a pond near Frankfurt four days after he disappeared. Most of the money was later found at Gäfgen's home.

The case attracted intense media coverage and ahead of the ruling the top-selling daily Bild splashed the headline across its front page Thursday: "Damages for a Child Murderer? Judge, stop this!" with a picture of Hefter.

Story continues below…

The GdP police union said the judgement was "emotionally very difficult to endure" and argued that officers must be able to use tough interrogation methods in situations in which lives are believed to be at stake.

"Neither torture nor even the threat of torture are instruments at the disposal of a police force operating under the rule of law," union chief Bernhard Witthaut said in a statement.

"But family members, as well as all citizens, have a right to expect that the police will try to question an alleged murderer to such an extent that the potential victim can at least be found quickly, if not rescued."

The interior affairs spokesman for the ruling Christian Democratic Union, Wolfgang Bosbach, slammed the verdict as "a slap in the face for the parents and relatives of the victim Jakob von Metzler."


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:46 August 4, 2011 by auniquecorn
my first comment was to short, so the local would´nt publish it.

So ´how about:

this is so fkn sad,
13:18 August 4, 2011 by oldWine
How much did he has to pay for the murder to the people who lost the child?

Or what punishment was given? He looks arrogant in the photo and in the photo no sign of feeling guilty.
13:21 August 4, 2011 by skk31
If he was found guilty, he shudnt have been awarded anything.
13:34 August 4, 2011 by trevzns
Ditto, the justice system in Germany and the European Court of Human Rights are in a fkn sad state and lacking the wisdom to be taken seriously.
13:40 August 4, 2011 by ATM
The European Court just like the European Union is one big joke and unnecsssary. To even considering paying this creature 1 euro is despicable
13:48 August 4, 2011 by LecteurX
They don't say whether it's the 2 policemen who are to pay the damages, or the Police as an institution (ah, The Local's journalism standards...), ie taxpayer's money. It's good to have laws ensuring that policemen don't misuse their authority and cannot mistreat citizens with impunity, but seriously, we're talking about a child murderer here! Surely, when there are hopes of saving an abducted 11-year old's life from a criminal, no amount of slaps in the face or threats of violence should be enough???
13:51 August 4, 2011 by yourholiness
The damages are quite correct despite the heinous crime involved. Controlling police abuse must be a priority.
13:52 August 4, 2011 by Grebo
As despicable as this murderer may be, we as a society need to be above threatening torture to obtain justice. If he ever gets out of jail I hope that no single person accepts a single cent from this child murderer.
14:04 August 4, 2011 by psykos
damn, Somebody should ask the judge, what would he do if his son was kidnapped. Please a boy's life was at stake. Such a sick news.
14:05 August 4, 2011 by LecteurX
@ATM - What do you know about the European court of Human Rights? Why push your own agenda on one case you disagree with? (and I also disagree with the outcome too btw) European Union? What now? Do you have an idea of how many miscarriages of justice were overturned at the European court of Human rights? At the end of the day, it was a German court which issued this ruling. Are you going to say that justice in Germany is "unnecessary"?
14:13 August 4, 2011 by Kanji
Is this another joke of the day?
14:26 August 4, 2011 by freechoice
the joke is Crime does pay, at least when the Polizei cockup!
14:29 August 4, 2011 by nemo999
Now that Magnus Gäfgen has €3,000 plus interest the parents of Jakob von Metzler, need to sue Herr Gäfgen for the wrongful death of their child. Herr Gäfgen now has assets that can be taken. It is highly unlikely that Jakob parents need the money, an they could then use the funds to create a public legacy in Jakob's name.

At least that is what would happen in several countries where lawsuits are a dime a dozen.
15:17 August 4, 2011 by trevzns
by yourholiness

The damages are quite correct despite the heinous crime involved. Controlling police abuse must be a priority.

What is the damage to Gäfgen or loss or harm from injury?

There are very few people that will not disagree with you, minimizing police abuse should be a priority.

However, what about the Human Rights for the family and the Victim? There has to be a better way to administer Justice?
15:18 August 4, 2011 by My opinion
He doesn't deserve a fkn thing! It's bad enough that the tax payer has to pay for the his time in jail.

I do not blame the police at all for their 'inhumane treatment'. It's a good job I'm not a police person - I'd have used more than a few words to get information about an abducted child's whereabouts...

In my opinion people who take away life (intentionally) are not entitled to any human rights - they completely removed someone else's....
15:23 August 4, 2011 by frankiep
Good to know that the next time some innocent childs life is in danger, and finding the child within the next couple of hours is the difference between life and death, that the courts are more concerned with making sure that some low life, scum sucking, oxygen thief, child murder doesn't get his feelings hurt than saving perhaps saving an 11 year-olds life.

I completely understand the need to have laws in place to prevent against brutality and the police overstepping their bounds, but damn, there has to be some measure of common sense and flexibility when it comes to the law as well.
15:28 August 4, 2011 by My opinion
@ frankiep

Well said!
15:38 August 4, 2011 by trevzns
by LecteurX

Slow your jets, why so defensive and judgmental regarding the European courts? The European Union and the European court have agendas and often push European views and standards of law on countries outside of the EU.

Justice in Germany today is fkn sad regarding some laws and need to be addressed.
16:30 August 4, 2011 by LecteurX

I disapprove of people dismissing the entirety of the European Court of Human Rights because of one particular situation where it actually does not even play a central role. The EU has absolutely NOTHING to do with this story, is not connected to the ECHR and this cheap bashing is pointless. There are lots of European countries (47 in total) that are not in the EU (27 members) but are members of the ECHR, so what? Everything name beginning with "European..." does not mean that it is an EU body.

The ECHR rulings are not always binding on national courts. In this particular case, it had issued a ruling on the "inhumane treatment", but in the end, it was very much a German court that ordered €3,000 damages be paid.

I agree with everybody here finding it an outrage. But Europe has nothing to do with this verdict, sorry.

You could very well say: "we're having a rainy summer - oh f*ck the EU for this". That's what I find stupid.
17:50 August 4, 2011 by iseedaftpeople
While I understand the angry mob reaction today in the media, let's look at this a little more calmly for a second. The guy is where he belongs, where he deserves to be. He got life for killing a child. Nothing is going to change that or lessen his guilt, not even this verdict. There is a good chance he will never get out again, and I fully support that.

But there is a definite police brutality angle here. Police applied unlawful interrogation techniques on a suspect, so unlawful in fact, it violated the German Constitution. Article 1 reads "Human dignity is inviolable". Article 104(I) even states "Detained persons must not be abused, neither physically nor emotionally". And even the ECHR stepped in calling it inhumane treatment. It may be inconceivable to some, perhaps even many, how that can also mean that a perpetrator of even the most heinous crimes imaginable enjoys (these) constitutional rights, or human rights. But let's again remind ourselves that he IS in prison for life. He didn't and doesn't get off with a slap on the wrist for his crimes because of what it says in the Constitution. This is a separate matter. Separate from what he is locked up for.

Constitutional rights are and must be for everyone. If we start denying these rights to one group of people, however gruesome their deeds and however great their debt to society, the Constitution as a whole suffers, it becomes inconsistent and arbitrary, and we're going on a slippery slope to tyranny.

I, for one, still have faith in due process of law in this country. Both because Mr. Gäfgen will spend the rest of his life behind bars, and because police who violated his constitutional rights were punished. People are saying, what if it was your kid. Well, then I would be glad he is doing life for murdering my child, I would see anything less than that as a miscarriage of justice. But parent or not, and guilty or not, I too could end up being a suspect in a police investigation one day, for whatever reason. And I too would demand that my constitutional rights be observed and protected.

In the end, 3,000 euros are not even a blip on the screen of all the taxpayer money that gets wasted in this country day in, day out. But to prove a point about constitutional rights, it is three grand well-spent.
17:57 August 4, 2011 by hOU
Pull his fokkin teeth out.
20:55 August 4, 2011 by catjones
If name calling or verbals threats are equated with torture, then what was abu ghraib? And if abu ghraib is equated with torture, then what was Dachau?
21:23 August 4, 2011 by charlenej
@Iseedaftpeople - The liberal in me really wants to get there, but I can't. When people do heinous things to children, I simply don't care about the constitution or what it means to everyone and all that other stuff that I know a good liberal is supposed to care about. For crimes against children, once it's proven, in all honesty I want them just to take one to the head, I don't even want to bother trying to rehabilitate them or house and feed them, just gone. I feel like I should feel bad saying that, but I really don't.
21:55 August 4, 2011 by yourholiness
I know how you feel charlenej and I'm not sure why the judge(s) couldn't merely impose a fine of 1 euro and/or perhaps fine the policemen involved.
22:25 August 4, 2011 by zeddriver

Bang on. The constitution is there for a reason. It not only spells out the rights of the citizens. It spells out the limitations on the power of the government to assume more power over the citizens without the authorization from the citizens.

I think the finger in everyones eye was the fact that the court awarded money to this murderer. The police involved deserved to be punished. If they don't follow the law then why should I. If you want police torture in Germany. Then you should change the law to allow them to use it.
22:37 August 4, 2011 by Paralegal123
Child Murderer Awarded Damages For Polce Threat

I am a citizen of the United States and a Paralegal. This article fascinated me, because of the fact that the accused was awarded compensation for alleged torture at the hands of the police.

The act of murder is a heinous act and those that commit such criminal acts should be held accountable in a court of law. Having stated that, torture is not appropriate nor legal in the scenario of extracting or eliciting information from the accused. Admittedly, police authorities are in some instances pressured into getting the accused to admit to a crime; however, torture or threat of torture is not a legally acceptable method of interrogation. Indeed, confessions obtained through physical abuse, mental and psychological abuse, and other extreme actions are not valid confessions under the Law.

The accused in this case admitted to the murder of the victim; however, innocent persons who are interrogated by police are in some instances physically and psychologically abused.

In conclusion, I agree with Mr. Witthaut that notwithstanding the heinous crime that the accused committed, the Rule of Law must prevai. Without the protection of the Law, innocent persons who are subjected to torture and or threat of torture may subsequently admit to a crime that they did not commit.

As far as compensation for the accused is concerned, I do not have any definite feelings. In the United States, compensation would not be awarded to the defendant; however, the defendant's confession or statements of culpability, if obtained through coersive methods such as intimidation, threats or promises, physical abuse, mental and psychological abuse, and other extreme actions is subject to suppression by the Court.

Margaret Harks
23:06 August 4, 2011 by iseedaftpeople

"For crimes against children, once it's proven, in all honesty I want them just to take one to the head"

But that's precisely the issue - at the point in time when his constitutional rights were violated, he was only a suspect. He had not been proven guilty in a court of law. And therefore, although there was already much reason to believe that he was a child murderer, he had to be presumed innocent. Whether or not you want to take constitutional rights away from a convicted murderer, at the time of police interrogating him, Gäfgen still had them regardless. Just like any other murder suspect, no matter if they did the crime or not.

That was my point. Whatever happens after somebody like Gäfgen was found guilty in court, well... he got what he deserved. He will quite likely never be a free man again, and from what you tend to hear about prisons, child murderers or molesters are the lowest of the low in the inmate pecking order. He will have enough hell on earth in the slammer as it is. Without everyone of us wanting to physically hurt him, or revoke his constitutional rights.
01:03 August 5, 2011 by nz101
The world has gone PC mad and the law is an ass and needs to be changed. I hope this guy rots in hell. What about the inhamane treatment he gave to that child? and compensation to the boy's parents?

It really defies belief.

They should just shoot the bastard and save some taxpayer dollars.
05:30 August 5, 2011 by heyheyhey
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
09:18 August 5, 2011 by wood artist
Dumb. Write him a check, show it to him, point out that he's in prison, and then put it in an envelope and tell him you'll keep it for him and he can pick it up when he gets out.

Problem solved.

19:21 August 5, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
"Psychological damage"? What about the psychological pain inflicted upon the family of that little boy (or the boy himself, for that matter)? Typical ruling based on the backwards laws in Germany. If you kill someone, especially a child, I feel that you give up your rights and the law has no obligation to protect you, since you'd be a danger to society. Some people are beyond rehabilitation.

I like what you said, wood artist. That's exactly what's going to happen anyway.
11:23 August 6, 2011 by Edgar The Peaceful
Looks like Germany suffers just as much as we in England do in the hands of those who control us in the EU
19:55 August 17, 2011 by Californian News
He is not the only criminal scumbag, who committed crimes against children, which the cops and justice system let go free: Armen Gukusan ( D.O.B. July 03, 1980 in Armenia / former UdSSR / Registered Alien-Number A # 098662946 ) and his wife Margarita Volujskij ( D.O.B. September 16, 1982 in Karaganda / Kazakhstan / former UdSSR ) escaped with false papers to california. Their address is known by German and american officials and law enforcement, and both criminals are wanted by German and american courts with several warrants, but they still on the loose. See this documentation about them at

Y O U T U B E watch?v=3EyJm30VkNo
23:36 September 13, 2011 by Texasroose

I demand the immediate removal of the data and photos of Armen G. and his personal information!

A.G. has done something wrong in his whole life! I know him, he and his wife are are very nice and kind persons with a 3 year old daughter.

This is pure propaganda and agitation in the forum. A.G. is not a child molester but a lawful citizen who lives and works in California!


03:06 September 16, 2011 by Bountyhunter1
a lawful citizen

That surprises, because the own sister of Mrs. Volujskij remarks at german jusitce-boards, that he spent some time in german prisons for scamming and expected some more years in prison, if he come back to germany
23:11 September 30, 2011 by Armen Gukasan
You can not catch me!

Ha ha ha I dont live in Glendale anymore.

all your youtube videos with my foto and my name will not help you anymore.

I already changed my name and the way I look.

Enjoy in hunting a ghoost
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