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German who served 13 years for 'bathtub murder' acquitted

July 7, 2023

Manfred Genditzki had consistently denied drowning an elderly woman in the bathtub in the Bavarian lakeside town of Rottach-Egern. Now a court has struck down his life sentence.

Manfred Genditzki in the courtroom
The prosecution had urged the court to acquit Genditzki at his retrial.Image: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa/picture alliance

A man who spent more than 13 years in prison in Germany's so-called "bathtub murder" was acquitted Friday after a retrial.

The 63-year old Manfred Genditzki was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison in 2010 by a Munich court. The judge ruled then that he had hit an 87-year-old woman on the head in October 2008 after an argument at her apartment where he was a caretaker. 

Genditzki spent years fighting for a retrial, insisting that he was innocent.

"You have heard the words you spent nearly 14 years waiting for," Judge Elisabeth Ehrl told Genditzki while pronouncing the verdict at the Munich state court.

After hearing experts at the retrial, the court said it was "not just possible, but probable" that the woman died as a result of an accident and that no murder was committed.

Manfred Genditzki  walks with his wife Maria (right) after the verdict was announced in the retrial
Experts testified that the murder had "no actual evidence"Image: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa/picture alliance

What is the 'bathtub murder' case?

Genditzki was accused of hitting an elderly woman at her apartment in the upscale Bavarian lakeside town of Rottach-Egern.

Genditzki, who worked as a caretaker at the complex where the woman lived, was held for drowning her in a bathtub.

He maintained that he was innocent and appealed unsuccessfully against the original verdict and finally secured a retrial last August.

Judges ultimately found that the woman must have likely fallen into the bathtub as she tried to wash laundry or take a foot bath and was unable to free herself — possibly because she was unconscious and drowned.

What compensation can the wrongly imprisoned expect?

According to the reports, Genditzki reacted calmly to the verdict, but there were tears in the packed courtroom.

"I'm not going to jump for joy," he said. "I don't have a reason to celebrate. Fourteen years are gone."

The judge said the government must compensate him for the wrongly imposed prison sentence. 

People who are wrongfully imprisoned are entitled to €75 ($81.71) in compensation for every day in custody.

Following the acquittal, Genditzki is set to receive €368,400 ($400,000), which critics consider far too low. 

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ara/jcg (dpa, AP)