Ten of 11 men accused in the gang rape of a woman in the southern city of Freiburg in 2018 have been sentenced to jail terms. The case was seized upon by anti-immigration populists, as most of the men are refugees.
A German regional court on Thursday handed jail sentences of up to five and a half years to members of a group of men accused of jointly raping an 18-year-old woman in the southern city of Freiburg in October 2018.
The longest jail sentence was given by the Freiburg court to the main perpetrator of the crime, while seven men received prison sentences of between three and four years.
Two accused received suspended jail sentences of four and six months, respectively, for their failure to render assistance to the victim. One man was found not guilty of involvement in the rape.
The men were accused of raping the woman in bushes near a disco for over two hours while she was helpless under the influence of alcohol and the drug Ecstasy. The court heard evidence that the woman's drink had been spiked at the nightclub. They had claimed that the sex was consensual.
The accused, of whom only one possessed a German passport, were aged 18 to 30 at the time of the crime. Eight of the men are from Syria. The case was seized upon by populist opponents of a liberal immigration and refugee policy to support their stance.
Before the verdicts were issued, however, Freiburg Mayor Martin Horn praised residents of the city for their rationality. "I think Freiburg has reacted impressively," he told the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung on Thursday, adding he was "proud and grateful" that the majority of residents had spoken out against generalizations targeting non-Germans.
"It was right and important that Freiburg, as a cosmopolitan city, took a considered stance: the perpetrators have to be punished according to the rule of law, while at the same the vast majority distanced itself from populist instrumentalizations," he said.
tj/sms (dpa, AFP)