So strapped for money that he cut off his own finger. That was the finding of the court at the trial this week of a dentist from Fichtenwalde in the north-eastern state of Brandenburg, wrote the Süddeutsche Zeitung late on Tuesday.
The 43-year-old man was found to have maimed himself to claim hundreds of thousands of euros from his insurance company and was sentenced to a year's prison term to be served on parole.
The man, who consistently stuck to his claim that he had been the victim of a violent robbery, was found guilty of faking a crime and attempted fraud, said the paper.
But the dentist, who vehemently denied self-mutilation throughout the trial, will now appeal the verdict, under threat of losing his license to practice.
The man said he was surprised by two men who burst into his practice one night in March 2012 demanding money and gold. When he said he didn't have any, they grew angry, cut off the index finger of his left hand and fled, he claimed. The dentist said he then put an emergency dressing on the wound, gave himself something for the pain and called for help.
But despite a widespread search, neither the culprits nor the missing finger have ever been found, wrote the paper. Furthermore police found contradictions in his story - crucially for the prosecution's case, one investigation found traces of blood in the practice which contained painkillers.
The dentist protested that he had no motive to mutilate himself, but the court heard how preferable insurance terms for dentists meant he would have stood to gain €600,000 if the insurance deemed him unable to work and a further €250,000 if he could prove that he had been the victim of a violent robbery.
“In the industry we hear that doctors [and dentists] are far more frequently losing a finger than other people,” a spokeswoman from the umbrella German Insurance Association told the paper.
Doctors and dentists not only stand to gain much higher payouts than others if they lose body parts, but also have access to painkillers, wrote the paper.