Killer Convicted, Police Under Fire for Torture

Fifteen years to life: convicted killer Gäfgen and his lawyer plan to appeal.

Police threatened to torture a law student declared guilty of killing the 11-year-old son of a banker's family. His lawyer says Germany's highest court will overturn the conviction due to the torture threat. A controversial trial came to an end in Frankfurt on Monday when 28-year-old Magnus Gäfgen was pronounced guilty of abduction, murder and blackmail. The law student was sentenced to life in prison for murdering 11-year-old Jakob von Metzler, the son of a prominent Frankfurt banking family. But the fact that local police squeezed a confession out of Gäfgen by threatening to torture him was irrelevant, Judge Hans Bachl told the court.

"With the threat of torture the police did grave damage to the rule of law of this country," Bachl said in his concluding statement. "Their guilt, however, has nothing to do with Gäfgen's guilt."

Gäfgen kidnapped Jakob von Metzler on Sept. 27, 2002, as the boy was on his way home from school. The same day he suffocated Metzler, he demanded €1 million from the Metzler family for the boy's release, which they paid. The police, who had been observing Gäfgen for days, arrested him at the Frankfurt airport.

While interrogating Gäfgen, Deputy Police President Wolfgang Daschner threatened to have a martial arts expert hurt the suspect if he didn't reveal where Metzler was being held. Gäfgen then told the police where he had hid the child, who was already dead at the time.

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