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Woman wrongly jailed for murder faces €32,000 bill

The Local · 12 Apr 2012, 12:39

Published: 12 Apr 2012 12:39 GMT+02:00

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Monika de Montgazon was convicted in 2005 of setting fire to the house in Berlin where she, her partner and her 76-year-old father were living, with the intention of killing the old man for his insurance payout.

But she challenged the conviction from jail – and after 888 days behind bars, she had assembled enough evidence to show the fire had been an accident, started by a cigarette left burning in her father's bed, the Tagesspiegel newspaper said on Thursday.

The now 56-year-old was freed in March 2006 having served nearly two and a half years of a life sentence.

But she is still fighting for appropriate compensation after rejecting an initial offer of €11 for each day she spent in prison.

Now the justice system has given her another "slap in the face" de Montgazon told journalists on Wednesday. It has told her it would only cover €86,000 of the costs of her appeal, leaving her with a €32,000 bill.

The Berlin state supreme court decided de Montgazon's appeal had cost too much – paying experts up to €125 an hour of work, as opposed to the €84 it considered reasonable.

De Montgazon had "not plausibly argued" why the costs were so high, said the court.

Ulrich Schnellenberg, head of the Berlin lawyers' association said this was ridiculous. "How is someone sentenced to life in prison and fighting for their freedom supposed to negotiate a rate in line with market prices with experts?" he said.

Schnellenberg is demanding that Berlin Justice Senator Thomas Heilmann intervene to "find a non-bureaucratic solution to averting this injury as soon as possible."

Montgazon will meanwhile be waiting on a ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court, to which she has submitted a complaint.

Story continues below…

Previously a doctor's assistant, de Montgazon now runs a disco in Berlin's Neukölln district. "This just goes on and on," she told the paper on Thursday. "But I'll keep fighting."

The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:01 April 12, 2012 by Sayer
Justice both delayed and denied.
17:18 April 12, 2012 by chicagolive
The German government will find so way to screw you over.
19:29 April 12, 2012 by Bushdiver
Sounds like ermany. Falsely imprison you the charge you huge sums of money for their mistake. If I were this woman I'd be suing for all I could get which wouldn't be much here in Germany.
20:21 April 12, 2012 by Needalight
All I can say is, poor woman! At least in the USA you get a hefty lump sum when you get wrongly imprisoned. Lawyers are at fault, sue them.
22:30 April 12, 2012 by wood artist

Actually, that's not universally true. A man just got released...don't remember which state...for something like 8 years of a "wrongly convicted" sentence. He got zip. He didn't even get any of the things someone who served their whole time and was released would get. As a final slap, the prosecutor said he'd charge him again if he could, even though the court had ruled, through DNA, that he wasn't the rapist.

He can, of course, pursue a civil action, and likely will. And it's possible the prosecutor will have to answer to the Bar, but payment for time wrongly served isn't automatic in all states.

05:13 April 13, 2012 by jaycee7
This is totally bizarre. I doubt if this report has all the relevant fact.
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