Student ID: 9th November 2009Title: Rethinking Torture Word Count: 3173
jail sentence for car theft. Martin said she was too afraid to enter the basement to feed them
The case did much to highlight the importance of coordinated communication within policedepartments on known paedophiles. It is probable that better police co-ordination wouldhave assisted in Dutroux being apprehended much sooner. Madeline McCann’s abductionhas highlighted the same prevalent problems between neighbouring jurisdictions. However,the notoriety of the Dutroux case may have contributed to German police acting differently inan unconnected case.On 27 September 2002 Magnus Gäfgen lured an eleven year old boy into his flat thensuffocated him by wrapping his head in plastic tape. Gäfgen then deposited a letter at thechild’s home demanding one million Euros ransom. He then drove to private property nearBirstein, one hour’s drive from Frankfurt, and hid the child’s corpse under a jetty of a pond.
Gäfgen was observed by police surveillance collecting the demanded ransom. He wasobserved lodging some of the money into a bank and kept the rest at his flat. After the policearrested him he showed a determined resolve to remain silent about the child’s whereaboutsunder interrogation. From the available facts it was reasonable for the police to be workingon the assumption that the child was still alive. However, fearing for the child’s safety apolice officer acting on the orders of a senior officer told Gäfgen
“that he would suffer considerable pain at the hands of a person specially trained for such purposes if he did not disclose the child’s whereabouts
Convinced he was to be tortured Gäfgen informed thepolice that the child was already dead and brought them to where he had concealed thecorpse.The German Courts being aware of the threats made by police to torture the defendantinformed Gäfgen that his incriminating statements made as a result would not be admissibleagainst him and that this also meant that as the child’s corpse was the fruits of his disclosuresthat would not be used as evidence against him either
. The case was effectively reduced to just the police surveillance of him collecting the ransom. Had he been convicted of this thenhe would likely have got a lesser sentence. However he rather foolishly repeated his accountin Court of how he had killed and disposed of the child’s body.Gäfgen’s case is perhaps the best, and most reliable, case available to represent policebelieving they were working to a ticking bomb scenario. The police officers ultimatelyreceived a guilty but not to be punished verdict for their preparedness to resort to torture
.The verdict against the police officers involved makes allowance for the police officers tohave acted as they did under the circumstances. The question is this, is Gäfgen’s caseargument for torture being legalised or argument against? Fighting wars and defending
Belgian child rapist and killer gets life in jail without hope of parole, The Guardian, Wednesday 23 June 2004,http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/jun/23/dutroux.childprotection
Gäfgen v. Germany
(Application no. 22978/05)
Strasburg, 30 June 2008.
See also, Othman v Home Secretary (CA)  3 WLR, &,  EWCA Civ 290
, May a state torture suspects to save the life of innocents?, ,
Journal of International Criminal Justice.