In April of 2015, the then 21-year-old and 22-year-old drivers had on a whim decided to engage in a street race through Cologne, speeding at 95km/h through the cities. One of the cars hit a 19-year-old cyclist in the bicycle lane while coming around a curve, and she died shortly after in hospital.
A state court sentenced the driver who hit the woman to a two-year suspended sentence, and the other to less than a year suspended sentence.
“There is no conviction that can bring our daughter back,” said the young woman’s father in June, but he said that the suspended sentence was “like an acquittal”.
But on Thursday the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled that there were flaws in the original judgement. Head judge Beate Sost-Scheible said that in particular, the state court should have considered how the suspended sentences would impact the greater public’s sense of justice.
The case will now be sent back to the state court to be heard by another criminal chamber, which will then make a decision based on the BGH’s ruling.
A conviction of negligent homicide carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Though prosecutors had called for a tougher sentence for the drivers, the BGH concluded that the negligent homicide ruling should stand.
In a landmark ruling in February, a Berlin court convicted two street racers involved in a fatal crash of murder, sentencing them to life in prison for killing another 69-year-old driver. This was the first time a German court had ever found street racers guilty of murder.
The BGH is also set to review this case.
In June, three men were arrested in Mönchengladbach on murder charges after their illegal street race left a pedestrian dead.