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Boy's killer given 'threat' payout

A German court has awarded a man convicted of murdering an 11-year-old boy 3,000 euro (£2,600) in damages because a police officer had threatened violence during an interrogation.

The Frankfurt state court ruled that 36-year-old Magnus Gaefgen deserved the damages because his human rights had been violated by the deputy police chief's threat during questioning about the missing boy.

But the court rejected Gaefgen's claim that he had suffered trauma as a result and should receive 10,000 euro (£8,700) in compensation.

"Based on the evidence, it is much more likely that this (trauma) is to be attributed to the experience of killing the victim," Judge Arne Hasse wrote in his ruling. Gaefgen also was ordered to pay the bulk of the costs of the trial.

Criticism of the ruling was swift, recalling the outrage provoked by the October 2002 crime itself.

Eleven-year-old Jakob von Metzler, the son of a prominent Frankfurt banking family, went missing for four days; it eventually turned out he had been kidnapped and murdered by Gaefgen, then a law student.

Gaefgen confessed in 2003 to kidnapping Metzler in an effort to win one million euro (£870,000) in ransom to impress his girlfriend. When the boy began to fight back and shout, Gaefgen said, he strangled him. He was convicted of kidnapping and murdering Metzler and sentenced to life in prison.

Reacting to the ruling, Veith Schiemann of the victims' lobby group Weisser Ring said: "Despite the clear violation of his rights, payment of damages is not called for."

The German police union said: "The ruling overshadows the truly terrible crime - the murder of a child."

In the past seven years, Gaefgen has repeatedly gone to court in an attempt to challenge his conviction and win compensation for the threat made during the interrogation, taking his case to European levels.

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