A court in Germany has sentenced only one of nine men for raping and sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl to time behind bars.
According to reports in German media, an Iranian man was sentenced last week to two years and nine months in juvenile detention for the crimes committed three years ago at a Hamburg park during COVID-19 restrictions.
The others convicted of rape — filmed twice during separate assaults — received suspended sentences of one to two years. Four were identified as German, while the others have Armenian, Afghan, Kuwaiti and Montenegrin citizenship, reports said.
The trial heard DNA evidence connected the nine accused to the crime.
A 10th defendant was found not guilty, while another accused who faced charges for aiding and abetting and filming the rape, was acquitted in April.
The judge’s sentences are not considered the final ruling.
Due to the ages of the defendants at the time — between 17 and 21 — the trial was conducted by the youth chamber of Hamburg’s court. Sentencing is determined by each defendant’s educational needs, according to German criminal law.
According to prosecutors, the girl attended a party on the festival grounds of the park on Sept. 19, 2020. While drunk, the teen was led by four men to a bushy area and abused.
Her phone and wallet were also stolen.
The judge called the proceedings “a mammoth circumstantial trial in which it was not clear for a long time what had happened on the night of September 19th to 20th, 2020,” according to a translation of a report by Germany’s Spiegel.
However, a psychiatrist testified in court as an expert witness that the accused may have vented their “frustration” due to “migration experiences and sociocultural homelessness.”
Dr. Nahlah Saimeh said the accused, “who live on the margins of society, completely uprooted culturally, linguistically and socially” could face a “mix of emotions of anger, sadness, powerlessness, depression, fantasies of grandeur as a compensation attempt to cope with one’s own misery, and drug use.”
As the outrage over the Nov. 28 verdict spread, a group of Hamburg judges condemned the harassment of the justice, according to Spanish news agency EFE.
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“The Hamburg Judges’ Association, as the union of Hamburg judges and prosecutors, is appalled by the intolerable harassment of a colleague who, in this difficult case, fulfilled the task assigned to her by the Basic Law,” the statement said.
The group called the critical messages “unacceptable personal attacks” with “more or less veiled calls for violence.”
Some called for the judge to be a rape victim herself, while the criticisms were “marked by an anti-immigrant undertone,” the group added.
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