In the worst case of infanticide in modern German history, a woman who k*illed eight of her new born babies and buried them in flowerpots and a fish tank was sentenced to 15 years in prison yesterday. Sabine Hilschenz, a 40-year-old unemployed dental assistant from East Germany, was found guilty of eight counts of manslaughter and given the maximum sentence.
In 1988, she was thought to have ki*lled her ninth child, but the law said it was too late to try the case. Her lawyer said that she would fight the decision. The babies’ bodies were found in the garden of her parents’ house near the German-Polish border last July. This led to Hilschenz being arrested.
The horrible find led to a push by the government to do more to protect children. Hilschenz chose not to testify at her trial, which started in April. But she had told German detectives before that she was drunk when she went into labor and couldn’t remember what happened.
The court said that she had tried to hide her crimes by getting rid of the bodies of her babies. The judge in charge, Matthias Fuchs, told the state court in Frankfurt a der Oder, “We are convinced that the defendant ki*lled eight people through carelessness.”
Hilschenz had said that she and her then-husband already had three children and that her husband did not want any more. Judge Fuchs said, “She was afraid that her husband would leave her and take the kids with him.”
He said that the death of the first child in 1988 “set the stage for what happened next” and that each of the other babies who died between 1992 and 1998 made her less afraid.
Before the trial started, the court dropped the mu*rder charge because there wasn’t enough proof. Her defense team said she should only be found guilty of one count of manslaughter and given a sentence of three-and-a-half years because it couldn’t be proven for sure that seven of the babies were born alive. But Judge Fuchs said, “There are many signs that all the children were still alive.”