Court wraps up police torture charge case

6th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

6 December 2004 , FRANKFURT - A court in Frankfurt wound up testimony proceedings in the controversial trial of a former top police official charged with threatening torture, with the accused man again denying any use of torture and defending his actions. Former vice president of the Frankfurt police department Wolfgang Daschner, cited precedents in other cases in Germany where police threatened "immediate coercion" against suspects under exceptional circumstances. The testimony by Daschner concerned his a

6 December 2004

FRANKFURT - A court in Frankfurt wound up testimony proceedings in the controversial trial of a former top police official charged with threatening torture, with the accused man again denying any use of torture and defending his actions.

Former vice president of the Frankfurt police department Wolfgang Daschner, cited precedents in other cases in Germany where police threatened "immediate coercion" against suspects under exceptional circumstances.

The testimony by Daschner concerned his actions in trying to resolve the case of the spectacular kidnapping and murder of an 11- year-old boy from a prominent banking family in October 2002.

At the time in which he threatened the kidnapping suspect with "immediate coercion" - implying some physical pain - Daschner said police were still working in hopes that the victim was still alive and wanted the suspect to reveal where the boy was being hidden.

Daschner told the court Monday that in various police training seminars the issue and actual cases of the use of the method of "immediate coercion" against kidnappers were discussed and were approved as a means of last resort.

He also cited a 1988 case of how a seven-year-old boy who had been kidnapped was rescued alive after "immediate coercion" was threatened against the kidnapper. In two other cases, Daschner said, the threat of using the method had been approved by prosecutors.

The testimony wrapped up a total of five days of proceedings, with the Frankfurt court to issue a verdict on 20 December. If found guilty of serious coercion, Daschner faces a jail term of between six months and five years.

The emotionally-charged case related to the kidnapping and death of Jakob von Metzler in late September 2002.

Daschner, 61 and a veteran of 40 years of service in the police, denied using torture in instructing a subordinate to threaten "immediate coercion" to try to get the kidnapping suspect to reveal where the boy was being kept hidden.

As it turned out, the boy had already been dead by suffocation for four days before the kidnapping suspect, Magnus Gaefgen, broke down to reveal where he had hid the boy's body.

Gaefgen, a law student who was an acquaintance of the Metzler family, was served a life prison term for murder in July 2003.

German laws prohibit police from using force or the threat of torture, with punishment ranging from six months to five years.

Human rights groups want the Frankfurt case to make it clear that under no circumstances may the state apply torture.

But elsewhere, many opinion polls showed that most people backed the police official who was deemed to be facing an "exceptional" situation in his actions meant to try to save the young boy's life.

DPA

Subject: German news 

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