Fri, Dec 28, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Child murders shock Germany, forcing government to draft new plan of action

HORRID Last week, the chancellor approved a series of measures to protect children that allows police to take swifter action when child abuse or neglect is suspected

AFP , REGENSBURG, GERMANY

Two parents killed their children in separate cases over Christmas, German police said on Wednesday, the latest of a series of infanticides that have shocked the country and forced the government to act to improve child-welfare and social services.

In one, a father killed his eight-year-old son before committing suicide whilst a second incident saw a mother confess to killing her two toddler sons, said police in the southern state of Bavaria, where both incidents took place.

The first case saw a 43-year old computer programmer in Munich kill his son before suffocating himself with a plastic bag on the child's bed in what appeared to be a row with his divorced wife over custody access, according to police.

The bodies were found on Christmas day.

In the second a mother admitted to killing her infant sons after the grandmother found the children, aged two and three, dead in the bath, said police. Their mother was sitting in another room.

Officers arrested the 37-year-old mother on Christmas Day in the town of Beratzhausen, near Regensburg. The children's faces and necks bore signs of violence.

The mother had already confessed to the killings but had so far offered no explanation, said police. She was due to appear in court on Wednesday.

The father, 45, who was at work at the time the children were killed, has been ruled out as a suspect.

The two cases are the latest in a series of recent infanticides that have shocked Germany and prompted a series of federal measures to improve social services and child welfare.

Last Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel approved a raft of measures to protect families, at a crisis meeting over a series of grisly child murders at the hands of parents.

Merkel and the leaders of Germany's 16 states approved a plan of action allowing the authorities to take swifter action when child neglect or abuse are suspected. The new package also requires regular checkups for babies and toddlers and obliges doctors to report suspicious cases.

A national database of records on child welfare is also planned, compiling information from health care providers, child protection services, social welfare offices, family courts and the police.

Earlier this month police found the bodies of five brothers, aged three to nine, in a home in Darry after their 31-year-old mother confessed to a psychiatrist that she had killed them.

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