Court awards 125,000 euros to German sex offenders
The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday ordered Germany to pay 125,000 euros ($167,000) in damages to three sex offenders kept in prison because they were likely to re-offend.
The three, convicted on rape and assault charges -- including one for sexually abusing a minor -- were being held under Germany's preventive detention system, which allows prisoners considered dangerous to be detained for an indefinite period.
However, the three were all convicted before a 1998 change to the law that lifted a 10-year limit on preventive detention.
The three, Rudiger Kallweit, Manuel Mautes and Martin Schummer, filed complaints to the court after their detentions were extended beyond 10 years based on psychological and neurological tests that found they were likely to recommit crimes if released.
The rights court ruled that since their convictions dated from before the 1998 change to the law, they could not be held beyond the original 10-year maximum.
"Without the amendment of the Criminal Code in 1998 the courts responsible for the execution of the sentences would not have had jurisdiction to extend the duration of the detention," the court said in its ruling.
The extension of the detention was therefore a violation of the plaintiffs' "right to liberty and security," the court said.
Schummer was given a conditional release in September 2010 while the other two plaintiffs remain in prison.
The court awarded damages of 70,000 euros to Schummer, convicted on rape and abduction charges in 1985, 30,000 euros to Kallweit, convicted of sexual abuse of a minor in 1993, and 25,000 euros to Mautes, convicted of dangerous assault and attempted sexual assault in 1990.
It also urged Germany to "speedily" release the two prisoners still being held.
The Strasbourg-based court had previously condemned the preventive detention system in a December 2009 ruling, ordering Germany to pay 50,000 euros to a prisoner held under the system for nearly 20 years.
Following criticism from the court and rights groups, Germany in December amended the law to limit its application to severe crimes such as homicide, assault and sex crimes.
© 2011 AFP