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European Court of Human Rights

The Case Before the Court:


Co-Under-Secretaries-General: Işıl Beyza Bala and İdil Erdoğan

In the Gäfgen v. Germany case, the European Court of Human Rights came across a compelling question: Can the police threaten a suspect with torture in order to save the life of a child?

Magnus Gäfgen, a German law student, murdered a banker family's 11-year-old son, Jakob, on September 27, 2002. Gäfgen demanded 1 million dollars in ransom from the parents of Jakob who were not aware that their child had already been killed. Jakob's family left the money where Gäfgen instructed. When Gäfgen arrived at the spot to pick up the money, the police arrested him at the Frankfurt Airport. Without being aware that Jakob was already murdered, the police started the interrogation.  Upon Gäfgen’s silence for two days during the interrogation, the police were worried about Jakob's well-being and threatened Gäfgen with torture to learn the child’s whereabouts. That ended with Gäfgen confessing to smothering Jakob and hiding his body near the lake.

Gäfgen, in his application to the European Court of Human Rights, claimed that Germany violated the European Human Rights Convention's Article 3 (prohibition of torture) and Article 6 (right to a fair trial).

Therefore, can a confession given under torture be filed as evidence? No matter the condition, is the prohibition of torture an absolute right? As judges and advocates of EUROsimA’s rendition of the European Court of Human Rights, you will be able to come up with answers to these contentious legal questions!

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