A judge who struck down government rules that children must wear masks at school in a German state in 2021 stands to lose his legal career and pension, and has been handed a two-year suspended prison sentence for “perverting the law”.
Judge Christian Dettmar struck down the order by German state Thuringia in 2021 that, as part of Coronavirus lockdown procedures, children must wear masks while at school, should keep a minimum distance from each other, and should be subjected to virus tests. Ruling that this was not compatible with the welfare of the children involved, Judge Dettmar ordered two schools in the city of Weimar, Thuringa no longer had to enforce the order, and the judge’s decision caused instant outrage in state government.
His ruling was overturned by a higher court following a complaint by the state’s education department meaning masks returned to schools, and a prosecution against Judge Dettmar was launched, as he stood accused of “perverting the law” and ruling on a matter he did not have authority over. It was also alleged when making his original decision, the judge had only listened to evidence from experts who were critical of lockdown rules.
Now the Thuringian district court has found against the judge, giving him a two-year suspended sentence. His lawyers had argued for acquittal and the prosecution had asked for a three-year sentence, so now both will appeal the sentence, reports local radio station MDR which has been following the story since it broke in 2021.
During the case, the court heard allegations that the judge had made the ruling as a political statement against lockdowns rather than out of genuine concern for the children involved, and that he had allegedly deleted emails and files from his computers to cover his tracks. The defence argued the trial was politically motivated and was intended to silence dissenters, while Judge Detmarr himself said he felt no regret and would make the same ruling again “out of deep inner conviction”.
While a two-year suspended sentence may not seem like a serious outcome, it will have massive consequences for Judge Dettmar, as German law dictates any civil servant sentenced to a custodial sentence of more than 12 months is deprived of both their position and their pension, it is reported. He has already been suspended on probation pending the outcome of the challenges, and police searched his home, offices, and digital devices.