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Five people sentenced in Germany over child sex abuse scandal

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By Euronews with AP, AFP
The main defendant hid his face as he arrives for sentencing at the court in Münster.
The main defendant hid his face as he arrives for sentencing at the court in Münster.   -   Copyright  GUIDO KIRCHNER / POOL / AFP
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Five members of a child sex abuse ring have been jailed in Germany, in a case that has shocked the country.

The main defendant, a 28-year-old computer technician, was given a 14-year sentence for 29 cases of sexually abusing children.

The man, who was also convicted of several charges of rape, had previous convictions for child abuse. The court in Münster has ruled that his prison term can be extended beyond fourteen years, due to the severity of his crime.

The man's mother, and three other members of the sex abuse ring he allegedly led, also received prison sentences.

The court in western Germany said all five German citizens were involved in drugging and repeatedly raping two boys, including the 11-year-old foster son of the main defendant.

The attacks on the boys occurred over several days last year in a garden shed in the north of Münster, which belonged to the 28-year-old’s mother.

"This tops everything that was ever submitted to this chamber," said judge Matthias Pheiler.

After details of the case were revealed, Germany tightened its criminal laws on punishing sexual violence against children.

The court heard how the 28-year-old technician raped his partner's son, and then "offered" him to several men online.

The perpetrators used sophisticated technology to encrypt their communication about the abuse of the children, prosecutors said.

Police said they had secured up to 500 terabytes of data of video footage when they arrested the men in Münster last year.

A 31-year-old man from Staufenberg received a 12-year prison sentence for the sexual abuse of children in six cases.

Another defendant, a 43-year-old from Schorfheid, was sentenced to 11 years and six months for five cases of abuse, while a 36-year-old man from Hannover was given 10 years on four charges.

The main defendant's 46-year-old mother was also sentenced to five years in prison for her role in the crimes. The court said she knew of the child abuse happening in her garden shed. All the verdicts can be appealed.

Five other people have already been convicted in connection with the case and 50 suspects have been identified, of whom around 30 are in custody.

Joachim Stamp, the family minister of the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, has expressed relief over the long prison sentences.

"It’s a clear signal," he said. "Somebody who rapes children will feel the full toughness of the rule of law and has to expect to be locked away for the rest of his life."