Relief as German 'incest trucker' jailed

22nd March 2011, Comments 0 comments

The family of a German lorry driver breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday as he was put behind bars for subjecting them to a reign of sexual abuse and terror that went undetected for two decades.

"I am happy that it is finally over, that we live freely at last," said Bjoern, 28, stepson of Detlef Spies, who was jailed for 14 and a half years by a court in Koblenz, western Germany.

"We can be happy that the truth was victorious in the end."

In a case that shocked the country and drew comparisons with that of infamous Austrian Josef Fritzl, Spies put his family through an ordeal lasting more than 20 years in and around the tiny village of Fluterschen.

The court heard how he abused his daughter Jasmin and stepdaughter Natascha on a regular basis from their 12th birthdays onwards, raping his daughter for the first time in the back of his Toyota in a forest just before Christmas.

Spies, 48, had admitted fathering eight children, one of whom died, with his stepdaughter, who is now 28. This was however not part of the trial.

He was also convicted of one count of sexually abusing his stepson.

"He treated his family as his own personal property to do with as he wished," presiding judge Winfried Hetger told the packed courtroom. "He told his victims that what he was doing to them was 'allowed'."

Spies also prostituted both girls out to two other men dozens of times either in their flats, in a shed or in the back room of one of the men's Turkish doner kebab restaurant, the judge said.

Hetger said that the first time, when Natascha was 12, Spies told the other man: "Here, you can do whatever you like."

"For days afterwards Natascha bled and was in pain," he said.

Spies would sometimes watch and masturbate during these ordeals, for which he charged 40 deutschmarks and later 30-50 euros (42-69 dollars) each time, the court heard.

He was found guilty of 28 counts of sexually abusing minors, 42 counts of serious sexual assault of children, and 63 counts of sexually abusing people under his care for when the children were older than 14.

"When you add all these crimes together you come to a total sentence of 500 years and 10 months," judge Hetger said.

"German law however does not allow such a sentence."

The sentence was just under the maximum possible of 15 years, because on Monday he had made a full confession through his lawyer. After the term he will be in preventive custody.

Visitors in the packed courtroom cheered as the sentence was handed down, while the small, thin and unremarkable-looking Spies stared at the floor, showing no emotion, as his stepchildren sat opposite.

"This verdict is also an appeal to all other victims out there not to keep quiet, but to have the courage to speak out," Hetger said.

"Only then will the hurting stop."

Several German media outlets have compared Spies to Fritzl, who held his daughter Elisabeth as a sex slave in a cramped, homemade dungeon in Austria for 24 years, fathering seven children. He was jailed for life in 2009.

All three children had the same mother, whom Spies on one occasion beat up so badly that she lost consciousness, the judge said.

Authorities were only alerted after Jasmin, now 18, wrote a letter in 2010 to the mother detailing the abuse which was however intercepted by Natascha, who gave it to social services. Spies was arrested last August.

The mother appeared as a witness and prosecutors have not charged her with any offence. Neither she nor Jasmin were in court Tuesday.

"She just wanted to look him in the face one last time as the verdict was handed down," said Katharina Hellwig, Natascha's lawyer.

Sandra Buhl, Jasmin's lawyer, said it was an "unbelievable relief".

© 2011 AFP

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