NewsMurder in the Loccum monastery forest: A father goes...

Murder in the Loccum monastery forest: A father goes the way of the authorities

A convicted rapist is released, after which a young woman lies killed in the forest. This is the third time that this case is being heard. Because the perpetrator has so far got away too easily for the family.

Osnabrück – The father keeps an eye on the defendant. He has already sat two long trials in Verden in the courtroom opposite the man he believes to be his daughter’s murderer. Now the case is being opened a third time, but this time at the Osnabrück Regional Court.

Since Wednesday there has been a trial against a sex offender with multiple criminal records: He is said to have murdered the 23-year-old daughter of the co-plaintiff in the forest at Loccum Monastery in the Nienburg district in Lower Saxony on September 12, 2015.

The deed was almost exactly six years ago, and the father, mother and sister of the dead fought for a long time over the new trial. The Federal Court of Justice (BGH), the highest German criminal court, has twice rejected judgments from Verden on appeal.

No, he doesn’t feel any satisfaction, said the father of the German press agency. His trust in the judiciary was not shaken either: “I do believe in the courts.” The errors in the investigation were made by the police at the beginning, he said. The new trial should draw a line, he hopes – in the expectation “that he will now be convicted of murder”.

Read the charges for the third time

For the third time, the public prosecutor from Verden reads her indictment, which was written in 2016. The accused is said to have murdered the young woman “for the satisfaction of the sexual instinct” and for other base motives. On that day he was released from the penal system in Rehburg. In the forest, he attacked the 23-year-old and strangled her to satisfy himself. He hid the naked body under branches off the road.

There she was found days later by her father, who, as an experienced boy scout, searched the dense forest lane by lane for his missing daughter. But long rain had erased most of the traces. It cannot be clarified whether the accused had sexual intercourse on his victim before or after the murder, says the prosecutor. According to the report, the perpetrator is a “psychopath with sexual sadism” who should remain in preventive detention.

As in the first trials, the now 53-year-old defendant does not comment. He does not hide his face from the cameras when he is led into the hall and takes a seat. But he evades the eyes of his father.

Erroneous judgment?

In a first circumstantial trial, the Verden district court sentenced the man to eleven and a half years in prison with subsequent preventive detention for manslaughter. The family appealed on appeal, demanding a murder conviction.

But the second trial in Verden ended in shock for them: the chamber surprisingly found the defendants free in 2019 for lack of evidence. The family and the public prosecutor’s office challenged this judgment as well.

The BGH gave them the right: “An assessment of evidence that ignores serious suspicions is legally flawed,” said the verdict of the 3rd criminal panel from March 2021. The chamber in Verden did not take sufficient account of the sexual offender’s history. He had also previously strangled victims.

The processes are “an enormous effort over and over again,” says the sister of the dead in front of the cameras. The family is happy to have achieved the resumption, explains Katharina Theuerkaufer, the father’s lawyer. At the same time, the negotiation is a great burden for the relatives.

It is extremely rare for a crime to be tried for the third time, says the spokeswoman for the Osnabrück Regional Court, Katrin Höcherl. The BGH made use of the option to refer the case to another court. dpa

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