How often does it happen that a whole courtroom feels sorry for the accused? The 40-year-old woman with a silk headscarf wants to testify, but she is intimidated and agitated, cries silently and can hardly get a word out. The mother is said to have killed her four-year-old son: She deliberately threw him off a bridge into the river Wümme in Rotenburg, prosecutor Pia Geisler said on Tuesday at the start of the trial in the Verden Regional Court. The child drowned in the river. The charge is manslaughter (Ref. Ks 101/21).
The accused had “killed a human being without being a murderer”, Geisler said. For this, section 212.1 of the penal code provides for prison sentences between five years and lifetime. The boy had come to the children’s hospital in Rotenburg on November 2, 2020 with severe burns. He had to be surgically treated three times. The mother, who is of Turkish nationality, had said that she had accidentally scalded him with hot water while washing him, the prosecutor explained.
The staff at the hospital were suspicious of the injuries and wanted to involve the Youth Welfare Office. The mother then took her child out of the clinic. “The accused feared that she would be denied parental rights,” said Geisler. In the woman’s mind, this also meant that the boy would not grow up as a Muslim, but as a Christian. Therefore, she threw her son over the railing of the bridge into the water to kill him.
She then tried to commit suicide, but was unsuccessful. Hours later, the police in Rotenburg picked up the distraught woman. The body of the drowned child was found in an all-night search operation. The mother was first taken to a psychiatric hospital and later remanded in custody.
When the woman tried to testify with the help of an interpreter but could not, presiding judge Volker Stronczyk broke off the questioning and adjourned the trial. “Everyone in the courtroom could see that the situation is very stressful for you,” he reassured the defendant as she apologised for her breakdown. “We are proceeding with the trial calmly and patiently.” The judge ordered defence lawyer Daniela Post to summarise her client’s testimony in writing for the next hearing on April 30.