5 boys as young as 12 ‘film themselves gang raping disabled woman, in park’

FIVE boys as young as twelve have been detained in Germany on suspicion of gang-raping a woman in a park, sparking a row about whether the country’s age of criminality should be lowered.

The youths stand accused of assaulting a mentally disabled 18-year-old woman, but German prosecutors admit some of them are too young to stand trial.

Three of them are 14, the earliest age at which offenders can be prosecuted in Germany, but two are only 12, meaning they cannot be arrested or charged.

The incident took place on Friday in the western city of Mülheim after the group, all originally from Bulgaria, purportedly lured the victim into a playground in the park.

Reports say they then dragged her into some bushes and filmed a sexual assault on their phones.

A spokesman for local police said: “There was violence, massive violence.”

Police did not share details of the attack, but local media said the woman was “abused in various ways”.

Residents nearby were alerted to the incident after their dogs would not stop barking.

After an hour, a 61-year-old man reportedly came out of his house after an hour and saw the woman and two suspects, who fled the scene immediately.

The man found the injured and traumatised woman on the ground and alerted police.

She was taken to hospital with unspecified injuries.

The victim was able to give detailed descriptions of the perpetrators, and police later arrested all five.

In Germany, the minimum age at which a child is considered to be criminally responsible for an offence is 14, while in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland the equivalent age is ten.

Rainer Wendt, the head of the police force union, said: “For years we’ve been demanding that the age of criminal responsibility be lowered in Germany.”

But the head of the German Association of judges, Jens Gnisa, said: “The equation ‘more punishment, less criminality’ does not work with youths.

“The educational rules established in German law are enough to tackle juvenile crime.”

Speaking about Friday’s incident, police spokesman Peter Elke said: “After we determined that two of the group members are 12 years old and therefore are not criminally responsible, we handed them over to the parents.

“The three 14-year-olds were arrested and detained overnight.

“They were released on Saturday after interrogation.”

The two 12-year-olds will reportedly be handled by Germany’s Youth Welfare Office.

A police investigator who wanted to remain anonymous told local media that an arrest warrant had no chance of success in this case.

“Due to the current legal situation, it is very difficult to bring suspects who are that young into custody,” he said.

“However, the problem now is that they can freely discuss the victim’s statement with each other to cast doubt on it.”

Reports have said the five teenagers are from the southern Bulgarian town of Pazardzhik and are partly related to each other.

The incident is similar to a case a year ago in Velbert, a town near Mulheim, where a gang of eight Bulgarian teens raped a 13-year-old girl.

The perpetrators in that case were eventually jailed, receiving jail sentences varying from nine months to four years.

Investigations into the most recent incident are ongoing.