A former soldier has claimed that the female cadet said to have fallen from an elite navy training ship and drowned over a decade ago did not die in an accident but was instead raped and murdered.
The high-profile case took place on board the German vessel the Gorch Fock, where cadets are typically trained to become naval officers.
The case has stumped the authorities since it happened in September 2008 off the coast of the German island of Norderney.
Jenny Boeken, 18, had impressed her superiors during training and was expected to become an esteemed officer when the tragedy happened.
She fell overboard and her body was discovered 11 days later, however the circumstances behind the incident were never fully established and the case was finally ruled as an accident.
The public prosecutor’s office in Kiel, a major navy port in the northernmost German state of Schleswig-Holstein, has recently heard the testimony of a witness who came forward after over a decade.
Chief prosecutor Axel Bieler said: “We are reviewing the statement and will decide if the case should be reopened.”
Even though the prosecutor’s office did not want to detail the exact nature of the new evidence, local media reported that the witness was Boeken’s close friend who has since left the army and become a trans woman.
CEN/Felix Koenig & CEN/Robert Alfers & CEN/Terry Waterfield & CEN/Hermann Dirkes & CEN/Simon Koppes & CEN/NDR
Prosecutors did not detail whether the new witness was a sailor on board the Gorch Fock like Boeken was or enlisted in another branch of the army.
According to reports, the former soldier first contacted Boeken’s family attorney one year earlier claiming that the victim was raped on board the ship and became pregnant, after which she was killed.
The Boeken family has never believed that Jenny died in an accident and had previously launched a court case against the German authorities, blaming them for “lax safety rules” and poor conditions on board the vessel, but the case was dismissed.
According to Jenny’s mother, she is said to have recorded explosive events about the ship in a diary which has never been uncovered.
Before she died, she is said to have told her mother: “You’ll be shocked when you read what was going on.”
Boeken’s death was not the only recent incident on board the Gorch Fock involving a female cadet.
On 7th November 2010, 25-year-old female cadet Sarah Schmidt fell 100 feet from one of the masts during an exercise in the port of Salvador de Bahia in Brazil during a round-the-world trip.
The other cadets refused to continue the exercise, forcing the journey to be cut short and causing great embarrassment to the German Navy.
Captain Norbert Schatz reported that he was in a ‘Captain Bligh’ situation – a reference to the famous mutiny on the Bounty in 1789 when sailors on a British warship overpowered their captain William Bligh and cast him adrift in an open boat.
After the mutiny, the commanding officer was suspended, and a commission was appointed to investigate claims of sexual harassment and improper conduct. However, on 13th March 2011, all charges against the commanding officer were dismissed.
Gorch Fock has been in service since 1958 and has seen more than 14,500 cadets trained on board.
Six sailors have died on the ship over the past 50 years.