20 years after the kidnapping and murder of eleven-year-old Jakob von Metzler in Frankfurt, the perpetrator is still in custody. The convicted killer, who has since changed his name, applied for a suspended life sentence in 2017. In May 2019, the district court in Kassel rejected a dismissal and set a minimum period of 23 years, a court spokesman for the German Press Agency said. No dismissal is possible before September 2025.
The perpetrator, who was called Magnus Gäfgen before the name change, was sentenced in 2003 to life imprisonment with particular severity of guilt. This means that early release from prison after 15 years is legally possible, but in practice it is almost impossible.
The case caused outrage across the country. On September 27, 2002, Gäfgen lured eleven-year-old Jakob, son of a well-known banking family, into his apartment and suffocated him with tape. He demanded a ransom of one million euros from the family. The perpetrator wanted to live a “luxurious life with rich friends”, it said in the verdict. The Frankfurt district court found that the law student at the time wanted the child to die from the start.
Compensation for threat of pain
The police arrested Gäfgen three days after the kidnapping. Only after a threat of pain did he tell the officials where he had hidden the body – the police assumed at the time that the child was alive and needed urgent help. The threat during police interrogation triggered a controversial torture debate.
Gäfgen filed numerous appeals, but the judgment was not overturned. He is serving his sentence in Kassel. Because of the threat of pain, the state of Hesse finally had to pay him 3,000 euros plus interest in compensation.