Neglected five-year-old German girl saw ‘no daylight for years’

German prosecutors on Monday said they had opened an investigation after it emerged that a badly neglected five-year-old girl had reportedly not been exposed to daylight "for years".

Neglected five-year-old German girl saw 'no daylight for years'
The town of Eberswalde where the girl was found. Photo: DPA

Social services removed the girl from her family home in the town of Eberswalde, in Brandenburg, north of Berlin, and transferred her to a hospital on December 20th.

She has since been released and is now in state care, as are her two older siblings.

The local “Märkische Oderzeitung” daily reported at the weekend that the girl appeared to have suffered “extreme neglect” and was physically and mentally behind in her development.

“She reportedly saw no daylight for several years and was left to fend for herself for at least the last two years,” national news agency DPA reported.

The public prosecutor's office in Frankfurt Oder said it had opened a probe against persons unknown on suspicion of child abuse.

Daniel Kurth, the head of the Barnim district authority where the family lives, told reporters on Monday that the girl “had not received the care and love of her parents that she needed”, citing signs of malnutrition and speech issues.

There are no indications the girl's siblings suffered similar neglect, another local official told the same press conference.

The case prompted outrage in Germany, with the topselling Bild daily asking why the youth welfare office did not inform police even after deciding the girl's situation had deteriorated enough to remove her from the home.

According to Kurth, youth welfare workers had been in touch with the family since 2017.

The case recalls that of another girl, Jennifer, who was 13 when it emerged in 2009 that her parents had hidden their developmentally disabled daughter from the outside world for years.

Her family lived in the same German state of Brandenburg.

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German court ruling paves way for trial of Maddie suspect

A German court was told Tuesday it has jurisdiction to try the prime suspect in the disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann for unrelated sexual offences, paving the way for a trial.

German court ruling paves way for trial of Maddie suspect

The regional court in Brunswick, north Germany, had said in April that it  could not hear the case against Christian B. because the suspect’s last known  address was in a different part of the country.

But a higher court in Brunswick ruled on Tuesday that there was insufficient evidence of another place of residence, after prosecutors appealed the decision.

“The regional court of Brunswick has local jurisdiction for the charges and  must decide on the opening of proceedings,” the higher regional court said in a statement.

Christian B. is already behind bars, serving a seven-year sentence for  raping a 72-year-old US tourist in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz in 2005.

READ ALSO: 15 years on, Portugal eyes German suspect in missing Maddie case

He is also the main suspect in the disappearance of the then three-year-old “Maddie” McCann from a holiday apartment at Praia da Luz in 2007.

Brunswick prosecutors have said they believe Christian B. murdered the girl, but he has yet to face any charges in the McCann case.

As part of their investigations, Brunswick prosecutors last year charged  him with three counts of rape and two sexual offences against children in Portugal — unrelated to McCann — between 2000 and 2017.

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Judges in Brunswick must now decide whether to launch a trial over these  charges.

Brunswick prosecutors welcomed Tuesday’s ruling on the jurisdiction issue, with spokesman Christian Wolters saying it had also “brought clarity for the  Maddie case”.

The investigations into the McCann case were still ongoing, Wolters told AFP.

Reservoir searched

McCann went missing a few days before her fourth birthday, as her parents dined with friends at a tapas bar near the apartment.

Despite a huge international manhunt and global media attention, no trace of her has been found and no one has been charged over her disappearance.

In 2020, German prosecutors revealed they were investigating Christian B. in connection with the case, saying they had “concrete evidence” he killed Maddie.

In May, investigators carried out a three-day search at a reservoir in southern Portugal, at the request of German prosecutors, in the hopes of finding clues into McCann’s disappearance.

Brunswick prosecutors afterwards said “a number of objects” were secured during the search, but that it was too soon to determine any link with the McCann case.

“New investigation results, including those related to the search operation in Portugal, are not yet available,” Wolters told AFP on Tuesday.