A German judge has been handed down a two-year suspended sentence by the district court in Erfurt after being found guilty of perversion of justice for having banned the mandatory wearing of masks for children in two schools during the COVID pandemic.
Judge Christian Klaus Siegfried Dettmar made headlines across Germany in 2021 after he ruled that masks would not be mandatory for children in two schools in Weimar after the mother of two children, aged 8 and 14, complained that the masks were causing her children insomnia, nausea, and headaches.
However, according to a report from the German tabloid Bild, Dettmar was accused of giving his verdict prior to hearing from experts who were consulted in the case, and those he did consult with were deemed to be biased against the COVID measures enacted by the government at the time.
“The good cause of protecting children, which they may have had in the back of their minds, does not justify the way,” the Erfurt court judge said.
Dettmar defended his judgement on the matter, arguing that he had consulted university experts, saying, “I still don’t know why I’m sitting here. I have three grown-up children myself. At that time, I was driven by the everyday life of the schoolchildren. I saw danger in delay. The reports I use come from experienced university professors.”
Following his 2021 verdict, another court, the Thuringian Higher Regional Court, overturned the decision after arguing that the ruling did not fall under the scope of Dettmar’s court and that only an administrative court held the jurisdiction to make such a ruling.
The ruling also led to Dettmar’s suspension from the court after a disciplinary hearing was conducted by the Judicial Service Court.
Just weeks after Dettmar’s ruling was overturned, German police raided both his home and his office, seizing his electronic devices, including his mobile phone, which contained messages and emails that allegedly revealed his bias against the COVID measures.
After this week’s verdict, Dettmar has refused to comment on the case but justified his ruling prior to the trial by saying, “I have considerable doubts about the usefulness of masks. If you want to wear them voluntarily to school, you can do so, but we don’t have to patronise parents.”
The legal team representing Judge Dettmar has stated they are considering an appeal in the case as Dettmar also faces possible dismissal from his duties as a judge.
During the course of the COVID pandemic, Germany was well-known for having some of the tightest restrictions in Europe, and though the country began easing those restrictions in March of 2022, German politicians looked eager to reintroduce them.
German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, well known for being pro-restrictions and pro-lockdowns, claimed in February 2022 that Germany would have to deal with COVID for at least ten years.
While nearly all countries dropped mask mandates over the course of 2022, it took the German government under left-wing Chancellor Olaf Scholz until February of this year to finally end the mandates on long-distance trains and buses.
“The population has built up high immunity, and the experts who advise us no longer believe there will be another big, serious winter wave,” Health Minister Lauterbach said at the time, and added, “At this point, we also don’t foresee particularly dangerous variants reaching us in the coming weeks and months.”
In recent weeks, there has been speculation of a return of mask mandates in the United States as some experts have raised concerns over new variants of COVID, with some schools and businesses already reintroducing mask requirements.