Parents of flowerpot babies silent at start of trial
27 April 2006, FRANKFURT-AN-DER-ODER, GERMANY - The German mother who is alleged to have buried nine newborn babies in flowerpots after letting them die declined to testify Thursday at the start of her trial.
27 April 2006
FRANKFURT-AN-DER-ODER, GERMANY - The German mother who is alleged to have buried nine newborn babies in flowerpots after letting them die declined to testify Thursday at the start of her trial.
Sabine H., 40, an unemployed dental receptionist, faces eight charges of manslaughter. No charges were laid in connection with a 1988 infant death because it was too long ago to bring to trial.
Her former husband, 43, who has not been charged, also declined to testify Thursday, citing his right to withhold self-incriminating evidence. The divorced couple avoided looking at one another throughout the hearing in Frankfurt-an-der-Oder, east of Berlin.
The tiny skeletons were found last summer in balcony planters, a soil-filled fish-tank and flower pots in a shed in the small town of Brieskow-Finkenheerd near Germany's border with Poland.
"My client does not intend to respond to the charges," the trial lawyer for Mrs H., Matthias Schoeneburg, told the court. Under German law, defendants only have to give their vital data and do not have to say if charges are true or false.
As Mrs H., dressed in jeans and a white pullover, listened, the court read her previous testimony before an examining magistrate into the evidence.
Under interrogation behind closed doors on August 1, 2005, she had told the magistrate, "I didn't deliberately let them die. I just left them. I didn't put myself to any trouble for them."
She said she had got herself blind drunk each time she went into labour and woke up next morning with the baby gone and no recollection on what had happened. She said of one child, "I must have somehow buried it afterwards."
H. told the magistrate her husband did not want her to have any more children. The first death had started a vicious cycle of alcoholism and pregnancy. She had never consulted a gynaecologist for fear the undocumented pregnancies would be discovered.
The indictment alleges she intended the death of each baby, wrapping the child in rags and waiting till it died from lack of care. The couple, who have since divorced, have four children living. A verdict is expected on May 30 after 11 hearing days.
Legal analysts say it may be difficult to secure a conviction, as no cause of death could be found on the tiny skeletons and there are no witnesses to their deaths between 1992 and 1998. The husband has told police that he did not know his wife was pregnant.
The trial was adjourned till May 2.
Subject: German news