German state must pay compensation to prisoners | News | DW | 24.04.2012
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German state must pay compensation to prisoners

A court ruling has ordered a German state to pay 240,000 euros to four prisoners for keeping them far beyond their original sentences under preventative detention, which had been found unconstitutional.

A German court ordered the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg on Tuesday to pay hundreds of thousands of euros in compensation to four former prisoners for holding them years beyond their sentences in preventative detention.

The court granted the four convicts a total of 240,000 euros ($316,000) in compensation for the additional time served, to be spread out in monthly payments of 500 euros. The plaintiffs had requested 400,000 euros in compensation.

The convicts between the ages of 55 and 65 were first convicted in the 1970s and 80s for sex crimes, one also for attempted murder. They were sentenced to prison terms of between five and 15 years, but were kept in prison after their sentences expired under Germany's preventative detention laws because they were deemed a risk to society if released.

Preventative detention was at the time limited to 10 years beyond the original sentence, but that limit was abolished in 1998, allowing for indefinite detention. The men were ultimately imprisoned for 18 to 22 years beyond their original sentences before being released from summer to fall in 2010.

The European Court for Human Rights in December 2009 found that German laws for preventative detention were "post-punishment punishment," a violation of prisoners' human rights. That ruling was confirmed by the German Constitutional Court in May 2011.

The Constitutional Court gave the German parliament until 2013 to revise the laws.

Tuesday's ruling from the Karlsruhe regional court could open the door for dozens of compensation claims from prisoners held beyond their sentences under similar circumstances.

acb/pfd (dapd, dpa)