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CRIME

Two men jailed for over a decade in Germany’s ‘largest child abuse scandal’

A German court on Thursday sentenced two men to more than a decade each in jail after they pleaded guilty to sexually abusing dozens of children at a campsite over two decades.

Two men jailed for over a decade in Germany's 'largest child abuse scandal'
Attorney Jürgen Bogner (l-r), the defendants Mario S. and Andreas V. as well as attorney Johannes Salmen (l-r) stand side by side in the hall of the regional court.

The Detmold regional court jailed 56-year-old accused Andreas V. for 13 years, while 34-year-old Mario S. must serve 12 years.

READ ALSO: Police 'failures' probed in 'largest child abuse scandal in German history'

After their sentences, both men will be held in preventive custody, a step reserved only for the most dangerous criminals.

The pair are believed to have been the main perpetrators in a series of abuse cases that went undiscovered for years at the campsite in Lügde, around 60 kilometres from Hanover in northern Germany.

The caravan park in Lügde, sealed off by police tape. Photo: DPA

Along with a third suspect, Heiko V., they were accused of 450 instances of child sexual abuse.

Prosecutors said more than 40 children fell victim to the men at the “Eichwald” campsite between 1998 and 2018.

Most of the children were between three and 14 years old at the time.

Some 33 witnesses, including 16 victims and 12 relatives, testified before the court in the trial over the past ten weeks, many of them behind closed doors.

Outrage over the serial abuse, uncovered in late January, grew nationwide as details of failings by police and local authorities came to light.

READ ALSO: Trial begins for 'largest child abuse scandal in German history'

“Shocking cluelessness and inappropriate lack of concern about the dangers of sexual violence are widespread” in Germany, child sexual abuse commissioner Johannes-Wilhelm Rörig said in a statement.

There were 2,500 abuse investigations in North Rhine-Westphalia state alone last year, he noted.

“To effectively combat sexual abuse, we need much better cooperation between youth welfare offices, police, the judiciary, daycare, schools and the health system,” Rörig added, as well as more cash for state children's services.

He particularly urged tougher laws on child pornography, recalling that “behind every photo and every film there is real abuse of a child, often with unimaginable brutality.”

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GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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