Kidnapper gets life for murder of bank heir

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The Independent Online

A German law student who murdered the son of a billionaire banker was sentenced to life in prison yesterday.

Magnus Gäfgen, 28, confessed to suffocating 11-year-old Jakob von Metzler. He abducted Jakob on 27 September last year when the boy walked home from school in Frankfurt. Jakob's father, Friedrich von Metzler, is the head of one of the oldest family-owned banks in Germany.

Gäfgen demanded a €1m (£700,000) ransom. This was paid but the boy was killed and later found in a lake north-east of Frankfurt.

In his sentencing, Judge Hans Bachl said that Gäfgen had not only accepted the fact that Jakob might die, "but had [also] wanted his death". He said the student had wanted to live a "luxurious life with rich friends". He said that it was unlikely that he would be released after 15 years, the usual life sentence in Germany.

In his closing remarks to the judge, Gäfgen had asked for a sentence that is "tough on me but doesn't destroy me". Gäfgen's lawyer, Hans Ulrich Endres, said that he would appeal against the sentence.

The trial had been overshadowed by allegations of police brutality. During Gäfgen's initial questioning, police had threatened to inflict pain on him if he did not reveal where he was keeping the boy.

At that time, investigators were unaware Jakob was dead. So, in an illegal move, Frankfurt's deputy police chief, Wolfgang Daschner, signed an order allowing investigators to extract the information "by means of the infliction of pain, under medical supervision and subject to prior warning". The threat worked and Gäfgen hinted at the boy's whereabouts.