A female sect leader has been jailed for life for the murder 30 years ago of a four-year-old boy who she believed was the reincarnation of Hitler.
The now 76-year-old woman was handed the sentence after the Frankfurt district court in the German state of Hesse found her guilty of murder after the incident on Saturday, 17th August 1988.
With the sentence earlier this week on Wednesday, 15th November, court judges confirmed a previously cancelled verdict, given by the Hanau district court three years ago, that the Federal Court of Justice overturned due to legal errors.
According to German media, the elderly lady had persuaded the now 62-year-old mother of the boy, identified only by his first name Jan, to think that the child had been “possessed by evil” and had to be killed because he was the “reincarnation of Adolf Hitler”.
The court heard how there had been a catalogue of abuse of the boy had been left out in the cold, forced to sit on the potty for ages and was also beaten and on occasion had food stuffed into his mouth.
Matters came to a head when the mother tied the child up and stuffed him in a burlap sack, which she handed over to the sect leader, who dumped him in a bathroom.
It is unclear what she planned to do with him, but while he was abandoned there, having struggled to breathe, Jan suffocated on his own vomit.
At the time, investigators assumed that the child had died of an “organ failure” after the sect leader and the mum removed his body from the sack and made it seem as if he died in his sleep.
But after the investigation was reopened in 2015, and police got a hold of the sect leader’s diary, she was immediately arrested and scheduled for trial.
During the first trial against the 76-year-old woman, the boy’s mother was charged with joint murder after she incriminated herself by standing by the elderly woman, saying: “She is like a sister and a good friend”.
In the current trial, presiding judges believe the elderly woman who had managed the cult more than 35 years ago acted for selfish and cruel motives.
The 76-year-old woman recorded her motivation at the time, saying she felt “incredibly angry” when she was confronted by the boy whose personality she described as “evil”.
She had also called him a “pig” and “a sadist” among other highly critical descriptions found in her diary.
It was not disclosed why the mother gave the leader permission to abuse the child, but prosecutors believe that she had aimed to strengthen her position within the sect.
German media speculated that the abuse took place in the 76-year-old’s residence, which was also the sect’s base.
According to the diary, the 76-year-old feared her abusive behaviour would be uncovered by the boy’s teachers in school, which is why she planned to kill him.
The judge said: “You have now had ten judges attest to you that your sadistic behaviour towards Jan, in combination with your callous reaction to his death, can be classified as murder.”