Pay-out for rapists kept in prison too long

Four convicted rapists were awarded a total of €240,000 in damages on Tuesday after a German regional court ruled that they had been kept too long in preventative detention – violating a European court ruling on human rights.

Pay-out for rapists kept in prison too long
Photo: DPA

The four men have been in a Freiburg prison since the 1970s and 1980s, when they were sentenced to between five and 15 years. After their sentences ran out, they were kept in prison under preventative detention, which was originally limited to a maximum of ten years.

But in 1998, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s government removed the cap on preventative custody for serious violent crimes, which meant that criminals could be held indefinitely if they were still considered a threat to society.

This meant that the four in question, deemed still dangerous, were kept in prison for between another eight to 12 years.

Dieter L. (61), Peter W. (55), Günter G. (64) und Hans-Peter W. (55) were kept in prison for between 18 and 22 years longer than their original sentences.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in December 2009 that lifting the limit on preventative detention for already convicted criminals violated several articles of the European Convention of Human Rights.

The German constitutional court adopted the ECHR’s ruling last May, clearing the path for the four rapists to sue the state of Baden-Württemberg.

They had claimed damages of €25 for each day of their wrongful detention, amounting to more than €400,000, but the regional court in Karlsruhe awarded them €500 per month – or up to €73,000 each – in line with similar ECHR cases in the past.

It is the first time that convicted criminals have been awarded damages for being kept in preventative custody for too long.

Legal expert Thomas Ullenbruch told the Süddeutsche Zeitung he thought the ruling was “risky,” and that there were at least a hundred similar cases in Germany which could be affected by this precedent.

The Local/DPA/bk

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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.