A Frankfurt court began the trial against the five family members, who are accused of murdering their relative in the city’s InterContinental Hotel last December.
The defendants, originally from South Korea, range in age from 15 to 44 years old and include the 16-year-old son of the victim. The oldest family member was a cousin of the woman, and her son and daughter are also on trial for the crime.
“All of the accused took part in suffocating the woman, or at least approved of it,” prosecutors wrote in their charges against the five.
Last December, the victim reportedly started to hit and talk to herself, and became physically aggressive towards her family, for unknown reasons. This then prompted the family members to perform an exorcism.
The family is reportedly Christian, with Buddhist and shamanistic influences. Investigators could not say to which church or sect they belonged.
Prosecutors say the family members pushed the woman to the ground and pinned her to the floor. Over a period of at least two hours, they inflicted “pain and torture on her body that went far beyond what is necessary to kill someone,” according to prosecutors.
The woman’s 44-year-old cousin is alleged to have stuffed a towel and a clothes hanger into her mouth in order to stop her from screaming.
The eventual cause of death was serious damage to her chest and injuries around her neck, prosecutors say.
After the 'exorcism', the 44-year-old woman called a pastor from the Korean Evangelical Zion Church – though the family did not belong to the congregation – and he then alerted the hotel and authorities.
The family had arrived in Hesse about six weeks before the murder to start an export-import business and were renting a house in Sulzbach. They reportedly moved into the hotel because they believed the house contained demons.