FREIBURG: A German court Tuesday handed down lengthy jail sentences to a couple for repeatedly sexually abusing their young son and selling him to paedophiles online for more than two years.
In a case that shocked the country and raised serious questions about child protection services in Germany, the regional court in Freiburg sentenced the boy’s mother, Berrin Taha, to 12-and-a-half years in prison.
Her husband Christian Lais, the boy’s stepfather whom he called “papa”, received a 12-year sentence followed by preventive detention.
Lais, 39, had a previous conviction for child abuse, raising questions why he was allowed to live in a home with a child present.
The court found that the unemployed couple had sexually assaulted the boy, now 10, and pimped him on the so-called dark net between May 2015 and August 2017.
They were convicted of rape, aggravated sexual assault of children, forced prostitution and distribution of child pornography, judge Stefan Buergelin said as he read out the verdict.
The couple was also ordered to pay 42,500 euros ($49,200) in damages to the boy and another victim, a girl.
Their sentences fell short of what prosecutors had demanded – 14 years and six months for Taha and 13 years and six months for Lais.
On Monday, the same court sentenced a Spanish paedophile, Javier Gonzalez Diaz, to 10 years’ prison for repeatedly sexually abusing the young boy after paying the parents.
The 33-year-old was also ordered to pay 18,000 euros to the young victim.
The case came to light following an anonymous tip-off last September, and led to the arrest of eight people who have been charged with belonging to an online paedophile ring.
Lais admitted on the witness stand to the assaults on the boy.
He also made serious accusations against the child’s 48-year-old mother, who confessed to the crimes but remained largely silent about any possible motive during the trial.
In his verdict, Buergelin said Taha went along with the abuse at first so she would not lose Lais as a partner and later “for financial motives”.
They charged several thousand euros (dollars) for each instance of abuse, filmed the acts and posted them on the dark net.
The boy is in foster care. His lawyer told reporters Tuesday that he was doing well “under the circumstances”.