2002 Juridical Aspects of the Trials against Serial Killer Juergen Bartsch
Quelle: International Academy of Forensic Sciences (IAFS), Meeting in Montpellier, France, OC-259
Meeting of the IAFS
JURIDICAL ASPECTS OF THE TRIALS AGAINST SERIAL KILLER JÜRGEN BARTSCH
VON A. ZABECK & M. BENECKE
Objectives: Investigation into a turning point of German juridical proceedings. Here, we focus on the multiple psychiatric decisions on the mental state of a juvenile, pedophile, homosexual serial killer, and the influence of those decisions on the trial. Nature of the study: Case analysis by use of court files.
Materials and methods: As above.
Results and Conclusion: In former times, the question whether an offen der was considered insane or not by the court did not have any impact on the outcome of a criminal trial. Today, it is generally accepted that mentally disturbed offenders should be treated differently from sane offenders. The question whether a person can be held responsible for his actions depends on either his current state of mind during the action of his crime, or on his general mental constitution. This means that the expert witness has great influence on wether a criminal can be pronounced guilty, and responsible for his actions. If the expert comes to the conclusion that the offender could not control his actions due to a mental illness he cannot be convicted. In this case he can only be sent to a mental institution.
Our investigations into the court files of the Bartsch case shows that his trials in the 1960's marked a turning point in the history of German criminal jurisdiction. The stages of appeal in the Bartsch trial document how numerous different psychiatric opinions influenced the decicion of the court. In the first trial (1967), the opinion was formed that Bartsch could be held responsible for his criminal acts (he was sentenced to life-long imprisonment). In the second trial, a large number of psychiatrists and researchers specialized in sexual sciences were asked for expert opinions in the case. This led to the conclusion that in juridical terms he was not responsible for the crimes. In 1971, Bartsch was (a) regarded as being a juvenile offender and therefore formally sentenced to ten years of incarceration in a mental institution (maximum sentence for juveniles; followed by a possible continuation of arrest).
In contrast to the now changed verdict of the court, the second trial left the impression that no fundamental changes in juridical perception took place regarding the massive changes in forensic psychiatry that had obviously taken place.
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