Call for castration of sex offenders

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Senior German politicians called for the compulsory castration of sex offenders yesterday, after the abduction and brutal murder of a seven-year-old girl at the weekend. Natalie Astner was kidnapped on her way to school last Friday in the Bavarian village of Epfach. The chief suspect, a 27-year-old electrician, confessed to kidnap and murder and led police to her naked body in a nearby river.

The accused is a known child molester, and the public was horrified to discover that he had been released last year from prison, nearly two years before his rape sentence was due to expire. Police confirmed the girl had been abused before being strangled. "We must make use of all legal possibilities to protect our children," said Bavaria's Prime Minister, Edmund Stoiber, who announced that Bavaria would back Draconian punishments for sexual offenders.

In Bonn, the federal youth minister, Claudia Nolte, urged "chemical cast ration" for rapists.

Imre Karacs - Bonn