What's Another Year for Satan's Recruiting Sergeants

Background: The Devil Made Us Do It

Manuela and Daniel Ruda never denied killing Frank Hackerts, so the 13- and 15-year sentences they received yesterday were not that surprising. But they avoided the life terms called for by their victim's family because of their motivation for the murder - Satan told them to do it.

The prosecution had requested a 14-year term for Satanist Daniel and 12 years for his wife Manuela on the grounds on diminished responsibility. The defence had called for a full acquittal for the same reason. Presiding Judge Arnjo Kerstingtombroke ordered that the pair be sent to a secure psychiatric ward where they would receive therapy to ensure they never repeated their crime. He added that neither should be thought of as "evil". They were sick - "humans not monsters" - and that society had a duty to cure them of their severe mental disorders.

The decomposing body of Frank Hackerts - who worked with Daniel selling car parts - was found in the couple's apartment in Witten, western Germany, last July. A scalpel was sticking out from his stomach just below where a Satanist symbol had been carved into his chest. He had been stabbed 66 times. When arrested, a week later, the pair told police that Satan had ordered them to: "Kill, sacrifice, bring souls." They had chosen to recruit "Hacki", they said, because he was "so funny and would be the perfect court jester for Satan". These and other grisly details of the killing and the bizarre lives of Manuela and Daniel have enthralled Germans for many weeks.

During the trial Manuela, 23, told the court in Bochum, in Germany's western Ruhr region, that she had been called by Satan when she was 14. Dressed in black gothic dress throughout the proceedings she wore sunglasses claiming that sunlight hurt her eyes. Medical experts testified that she and her husband were suffering from "severe narcissistic personality disturbances".

Yesterday, after the verdict and sentence were revealed and the judge allowed cameras into the courtroom the pair made their now customary Satanic hand gestures. Neither has shown any remorse for their crime and both grinned at the mother of their victim, Doris Hackerts, as the media scrum began. It remains to be seen whether the extra year's sentence will be enough for that remorse to develop.