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Main entrance of the Regional Court of Hamburg

Photo: Georg Wendt / picture alliance/dpa

The rape of a 15-year-old girl by several young men in Hamburg's Stadtpark caused a stir and outrage nationwide about three years ago. On Tuesday, the trial of ten defendants ended after a year and a half with a guilty verdict for rape against nine of them.

A 19-year-old was sentenced to a juvenile sentence of two years and nine months without parole. Eight men were sentenced to juvenile sentences of one to two years on probation or so-called pre-probation. This means that the court reserves the right to decide on the execution of the sentence for a later date, depending on the development of the accused. A tenth defendant was acquitted. An eleventh defendant had already been acquitted in April of this year.

Victim was heavily intoxicated

The ten young men were accused of raping the then 19-year-old on September 2020, 15. According to the prosecutor's office, the girl had attended a party on the lawn of the city park. During the Corona period, the green space had developed into a popular meeting place.

The joint plaintiff had been drunk with at least 1.6 per thousand, said the presiding judge now. First, four of the defendants led the teenager into a bush and performed sexual acts on her against the recognizable will of the 15-year-old. One of them stole her cell phone and wallet.

After that, two other defendants took advantage of the girl's confused state and raped her as well. When the 15-year-old wandered across the fairground again, she ran into the arms of another young man, who abused her. Finally, the three other defendants went with the teenager into a bush. However, it is not certain that all three raped her. That's why the court acquitted a 23-year-old. The verdicts are not yet final.

In the pronouncement of the verdict, the presiding judge of the competent chamber emphasized how time-consuming and complex the taking of evidence in this case was due to the particularly multi-layered evidence. Most of the findings, according to the Higher Regional Court, are based solely on circumstantial evidence gathered in the taking of evidence with the statements of over 90 witnesses and several experts. Witnesses had reported two videos that could be assigned to the first and the last crime. However, both videos were irretrievably deleted shortly after the crime and were not available to investigators or the court. There were also no direct witnesses to the crime. The only objective evidence was DNA traces of nine of the defendants.

Eight of the nine defendants found guilty were sentenced to juveniles based on the seriousness of their guilt. None of the defendants had attracted attention with sexual offenses before the crime or since then, or had previously been sentenced to a juvenile sentence, the court said. According to juvenile criminal law, the length of juvenile sentences is based on the educational needs of the individual defendants.

The prosecution had demanded sentences of one year and three months to three years for nine defendants. The defense has demanded acquittal – for all ten defendants.

Judge speaks of "mammoth circumstantial trial"

Due to the age of the 19 to 23-year-old defendants at the time of the crime, the proceedings were conducted by a juvenile chamber. The public had been excluded at the start of the trial on May 10, 2022.

According to earlier statements by the Senate, four of the defendants are Germans, and another four have Armenian, Afghan, Kuwaiti and Montenegrin nationalities. In the case of two defendants, the nationality should be clarified by the court.

The trial began on May 10 last year. It lasted 68 days of hearings, and the court heard 96 witnesses and several experts. The presiding judge spoke of a "mammoth circumstantial trial in which it was not clear for a long time what had happened on the night of September 19 to 20, 2020."