Landmark ruling in child abuse case

A couple from Århus was sentenced to eight months in prison for abusing their son and daughter despite a lack of physical evidence The Århus city court found a couple guilty of abusing their son and daughter over several years...

The Århus city court found a couple guilty of abusing their son and daughter over several years based on witness statements from teachers, classmates and the children themselves. The couple was handed an eight-month conditional sentence.

The ruling was significant because the convictions were upheld despite a lack of physical evidence.

The court ruled that episodes testified to by teachers, classmates and the children themselves were credible and strong enough on their own to sustain the abuse charges.

Witnesses testified to several incidents between 2003 and 2007 where both the mother and father had struck hard blows to the now 8-year-old daughter and the 11-year-old son, who has a speech-impairment. The children themselves reported an episode where the father flung his son across the room, the boy saying he felt a 'crack' in his back.

The two children were taken from the couple by authorities in 2007, when the charges were first filed.

The defence attorney for the parents, Hanne Gullitz, claimed that stress from dealing with the son – whose difficult behaviour, she said, had his school assign two staff members to mind him when out on the playground – occasionally pushed the parents over the line. But she denied there had been any systematic abuse over the years.

Danish law allows for persons found guilty of child abuse to be sentenced to up to six years in prison.

Gullitz said the parents were planning to appeal their convictions to the High Court.

The Copenhagen Post

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