Germany toughens laws on sex crimes against children
Nov. 14, 1997
BONN, Germany (AP) _ Parliament approved stiffer penalties Friday for the sexual abuse of children, a response to German anguish over the sex slayings of two girls by repeat offenders.
Lawmakers passed a proposal by Chancellor Helmut Kohl's government to increase the maximum jail penalty for sexual abuse of children to 15 years from 10 years.
The legislation also gives judges greater freedom in ordering the long-term detention of repeat sex offenders without trial and tightens rules for their release from therapy.
Spurring the measures was the case of 7-year-old Natalie Astner, who was kidnapped, sexually abused and left to drown in a river in Bavaria last year by a convicted child molester released early from prison.
Last January, a convicted child murderer sexually abused and killed 10-year-old Kim Kerkow.
Parliament also passed tougher penalties for a number of personal injury crimes, including grievous bodily harm and rape leading to death.
The government said the measures corrected an imbalance rooted in the German Empire's 1871 legal code that imposed the highest punishments on property crimes. Opposition politicians said the new measures did not go far enough.
Toughness on rising crime in Germany is one of the top campaign issues for next September's parliamentary elections, in which Kohl is seeking a record fifth term.