Human rights court upholds French verdict against German despite double jeopardy appeal | News | DW | 29.03.2018
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Human rights court upholds French verdict against German despite double jeopardy appeal

A German doctor said a French court had violated his right not to be tried twice for the 1982 death of his French stepdaughter. But Europe's highest human rights court said there was reason enough to keep him in jail.

Dieter K. in a regional court in Coburg (picture-alliance/dpa/D. Karmann)

Dieter K.

The French trial and verdict against a German man found guilty in the 1982 death of his French stepdaughter was upheld despite decisions from German authorities not to prosecute him, the European Court for Human Rights rules on Thursday.

The judgment from Europe's highest human rights court means Dieter K. will remain in prison in France and clarifies the right against being tried twice — the double jeopardy principle — for many European citizens.

Read more: ECHR permits Germany's preemptive deportation of teen to Russia

The facts of the case:

  • Dieter K., a German citizen from the southern state of Bavaria, is a former doctor born in 1935.
  • Kalinka Bamberski was a French citizen and Dieter's 14-year-old stepdaughter.
  • Kalinka died at Dieter's home in Germany in 1982. Andre Bamberski, Kalinska's father, accused Dieter of raping and then murdering his daughter. He lodged separate complaints in Germany and France.
  • German authorities discontinued criminal proceedings against Dieter four separate times between 1982 and 1986 after finding insufficient evidence to prosecute him. French authorities did not drop the case.
  • In 2009, Andre paid kidnappers to abduct Dieter in Germany and bring him to France. Dieter was later found tied up, gagged and injured on a street in the eastern French city of Mulhouse near the German border.
  • A Paris court sentenced him in 2011 to 15 years in prison for assault resulting in Kalinka's unintentional death. The court found Dieter had sedated Kalinka with the intention of sexually assaulting her. She died of a subsequent injection.
  • While in prison, Dieter lodged a complaint at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2014. He said the French court's ruling violated his right not to be tried twice for the same crime under Article 4 of Protocol 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • The ECHR ruled against Dieter, saying the right against being tried twice only applied to courts in the same country. Someone may, the judges said, be tried twice by courts in different countries.

Read more: European Court of Human Rights rules heterosexual couple stuck with marriage, not civil partnership

What were the reactions?

Andre Bamberski told dpa news agency: "I am satisfied today, but it's not right that I should have been under psychological stress for four years."

Read more: Italy failed to protect victims of domestic violence, says ECHR

What is the ECHR? It is a court based in the French city of Strasbourg that rules on cases related to the European Convention on Human Rights, an international treaty listing fundamental civil and political rights. Forty-seven countries have ratified the convention. The court is not a part of the European Union, but all 28 EU member countries are signatories.

Read more: Turkey suspends European Convention on Human Rights

ECHR building in Strasbourg (Imago/blickwinkel)

The ruling means Dieter K. will remain behind bars in Paris

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