Police 'torture' case settled with fine

20th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

20 December 2004 , FRANKFURT - Former Frankfurt police vice president Wolfgang Daschner was found guilty on Monday of threatening the use of torture on the suspect in a spectacular kidnapping case, and sentenced to pay a fine. In the case which had stirred strong public sentiment over the issue of when it might be permissible for police to use stronger measures to try to solve a crime, the court said Daschner had instructed a police investigator to carry out heavy coercion. Daschner, 61, was served a suspe

20 December 2004

FRANKFURT - Former Frankfurt police vice president Wolfgang Daschner was found guilty on Monday of threatening the use of torture on the suspect in a spectacular kidnapping case, and sentenced to pay a fine.

In the case which had stirred strong public sentiment over the issue of when it might be permissible for police to use stronger measures to try to solve a crime, the court said Daschner had instructed a police investigator to carry out heavy coercion.

Daschner, 61, was served a suspended-sentence fine of EUR 10,800. The subordinate, 51, was sentenced to pay a EUR 3,600 fine.

Daschner had denied using torture, but did say he had approved the use of "immediate coercion" against the kidnapping suspect as a last resort in hopes of saving the life of the 11-year-old boy who had been kidnapped.

In his defense, Daschner cited other crime cases in Germany in which police investigators in exceptional circumstances had threatened tougher measures to try to get information from suspects.

The Daschner case concerned his actions in trying to resolve the spectacular kidnapping and murder of Jakob von Meztler, from a prominent Frankfurt banking family, in late September 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.

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

Gafgen, 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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