No Minister

The look is that of justice?

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I don’t know why I have no memory of this famous incident. I can only guess that it’s because it happened in a time long before the Internet (“the what?”) enabled anybody with a cellphone (“the what?”) to be able to see, edit and send video. I doubt it would have been shown on the 6pm News, given the standards of the day, although there’s no blood, gore or falling bodies in the clip. The NZ Herald and Waikato Times were delivered to our varsity hostels and we read things like TIME and NewsWeek, and you’d think they’d have covered such an incredible story.

A quick check reveals none of my varsity buddies can recall this either, although a couple read of it many years later, after a couple of similar incidents in the USA. I guess we were all just too busy with our studies, plus drinking, sport and parties, to take too much notice of this.

Yet it seems more relevant than ever:

On 5 May 1980, when Anna Bachmeier was seven years old, she had an argument with her mother and decided to skip school. Anna was abducted by Klaus Grabowski, a 35-year-old butcher, whose home she had visited to play with his cats. He held Anna for several hours at his home, sexually assaulted her, and ultimately strangled her with a pair of his fiancée’s tights. According to the prosecutor, he tied the girl up and packed her into a box, which he then left on the bank of a canal. His fiancée turned him in to the police.

Klaus Grabowski was a convicted sex offender and had previously been sentenced for the sexual abuse of two girls. In 1976, he voluntarily submitted to chemical castration, though it was later revealed that he underwent hormone treatment to try to reverse the castration

On 6 March 1981, the third day of the trial, Marianne Bachmeier smuggled a Beretta 70 into the courtroom of Lübeck District Court and shot the confessed killer of her daughter, Klaus Grabowski, in the back. She aimed the gun at Grabowski’s back and pulled the trigger eight times. Seven of the shots hit him, and the 35-year-old defendant was killed almost instantly.

Looking at the way she so calmly takes the pistol out of her trench coat pocket and so steadily aims it in the old-fashioned one-handed style, I’m not surprised she was that accurate. She didn’t care to do anything as melodramatic as looking him in the face or letting him know what was about to happen either. She just wanted to kill him and it seems that it was more than simple revenge for the death of her child at his hands; she simply had no faith that the system would keep him locked away from society where he could hurt no more little girls.

On 2 November 1982, Marianne Bachmeier was initially charged in court with murder. Later the prosecution dropped the murder charge. After 28 days of negotiations, the Board agreed on the verdict. Four months after the opening of proceedings she was convicted on 2 March 1983 by the Circuit Court Chamber of the District Court Lübeck for manslaughter and sentenced for unlawful possession of a firearm to six years in prison but was later released after serving three years.

Was it justice? Not in the sense we usually mean; police, arrests, conviction in a court of law and a long – possibly life-long – spell in prison. Neither was this case where one Steven Sandison admits to killing his cell-mate child molester who made the big mistake of boasting about what he’d done.

Certainly you can conclude from her mild sentence for what was a cold-blooded murder, that people in the system of law and order who convicted her, felt it was justice as well. I read of no outrage on their part.

It was certainly justice as most of us know it in our gut. It is also a reminder that the Law is not there to protect us from criminals, but to protect them from us.

Written by Tom Hunter

December 8, 2022 at 11:46 am

Posted in Germany, Law and Order

Tagged with ,

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