A court in Germany has sentenced members of a pedophile ring to long terms in prison for sexually abusing children in multiple cases.
The court, in the western city of Muenster, issued its ruling on Tuesday, sentencing the main defendant, a 28-year-old man identified as Adrian V., to 14 years in prison on 29 counts of abuse.
Three other men received terms of between 10 and 12 years in prison followed by preventive detention, while Adrian V.’s mother, who was convicted of aiding and abetting the abuse, was sentenced to five years in prison.
The defendants were found to have trapped boys in a garden shed in April 2020, drugged them, and raped them repeatedly over the course of three days, while recording their videos and uploading the footage onto the dark web.
Presiding judge Matthias Pheiler described the actions of the group as “horrific” and called the video recordings “deeply disturbing.”
The main defendant’s mother, Carina V., was found to have been aware of the abuse, bringing the men breakfast while they took turns assaulting the children.
The judge also said that he was shocked to see that the defendants “grinned” and even “laughed loudly” while evidence against them was presented.
Prosecutors presented some 30 hours of video evidence, picturing the actions of the chief defendant and his three accomplices, aged 31 to 43, who are believed to have met Adrian V. online.
Police are still screening evidence and have used it to identify 50 more suspects, of whom around 30 are in custody.
The trial began last November, and the verdict broadly met the requirements of the prosecutors.
The German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where the offenses took place, has been rocked by series of gruesome child abuse cases and scandals, prompting a tightening of legislation and the issuing of tougher punishments for using and sharing child pornography.
The law also permits police and prosecutors to broadly monitor suspects’ online communication.