German child killer loses human rights case
A German man who killed a child loses a human rights appeal over police threats to torture him
Strasbourg, France -- The European Court of Human Rights dismissed an appeal by a German man on Monday who kidnapped and killed an 11-year-old boy six years ago.
The court ruled that Magnus Gaefgen's rights to a fair trial were not violated by the threat of torture made by police against him to find where he had hidden his victim.
The verdict means that Gaefgen will not be able to seek a retrial over his July 2003 conviction and life sentence for the murder of banker's son Jakob von Metzler in Frankfurt.
The boy had already been dead by suffocation for four days before Gaefgen, now 33, broke down to reveal where he had hidden the boy's body in September 2002.
Gaefgen claimed he had made his confession under the threat of torture from police and was deprived of his right to a fair trial.
The Court of Human Rights said the threat of torture was "inhuman" in terms of the UN Convention of Human Rights, but was compensated for by the German courts.
The accused made a voluntary repetition of his confession in court, so that the judges did not have to take into account the original confession made under duress, the Strasbourg judges ruled.
The court indicated the outcome might have been different if police had actually carried out their threat against Gaefgen, a law student who was an acquaintance of the Metzler family.
The police chief who told his officers to threaten Gaefgen was convicted of coercion a year after the murder trial.