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Germany

German Town Fears Freed Sex Offender

Released from prison only due to a mistake by the prosecution, a convicted sex offender has returned home to the eastern state of Brandenburg. Although he is under police surveillance, his hometown is gripped with fear.

Parents fear their child could become the sex offender's next victim

The release of the serial sex offender has alarmed parents who fear for the safety of their kids

The 50 year-old, identified only as Werner K, has spent a total of 22 years in prison for his sexual crimes. Following the end of his last jail term earlier this year, a court ruled that he had to be set free simply because prosecutors had forgotten to file for permanent security detention during his trial.

The man, who forensic psychologists have found to be mentally deranged and unable to control himself, is now speaking of a witch hunt against him. For a week, residents of the town of Joachimsthal have staged vigils, holding posters that read "Deserted by the justice system" and "Our children want to be free of fear."

Thomas Melzer, spokesman for the justice ministry in the state of Brandenburg where the town of Joachimsthal is located, has tried to quell the townspeople’s fears that the serial sex offender could strike again.

A deserted playground

Parents in Joachimsthal may keep their children away from public playgrounds

"The man is hugely restricted in his movements, especially with regard to approaching children," he says. "He’s banned from entering playgrounds and schoolyards, and any breach of this rule would lead to his immediate arrest."

These restrictions as well as the heavy police surveillance, which according to the daily newspaper Bild cost taxpayers 100,000 euros a month ($127,000), have done little to calm residents like Grit Brobowski, a mother of two who fears that the minute police stop their 24-hour observation of Werner K, he might start looking for his next victim.

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