German couple on trial for murder of starved daughter

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A German couple go on trial for the murder of their 5-year-old daughter, who died last year of starvation after months of neglect in her room in the family apartment.

15th April 2008

Schwerin - The death last November of Lea-Sophie in the northern city of Schwerin prompted Chancellor Angela Merkel to appeal to Germans to check up on how their neighbours were treating their children.

The mother, 24, and father, 26, are accused of murder by omission and of abusing a person in care.

The mother declined to testify, but a statement from the father, read to the court by his lawyer, said, "I failed as a father." He said he had hoped the situation would come right by doing nothing.

Prosecutors say Lea-Sophie was unloved and already undernourished when the couple had a male baby in September 2007. She became angry, threw her toys on the ground and refused to eat, but the parents neither took action nor sought outside help.

Finally the father called an ambulance, but she died in hospital. Doctors said she had not eaten or drunk properly for two months, and had dried excrement on her skin when she arrived in hospital. She had bedsores as she was no longer able to move.

At her death she weighed 7 kilos, half the normal weight of a 5-year-old child.

An inquiry has also been ordered into child-welfare officials in Schwerin who asked after the child but did not see her.



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