A Kenyan man was sentenced to 8 months imprisonment for breaking into a car and stealing while his friend a fellow Kenyan was also sentenced to 6months for being present at the scene of the crime and watching, although he wasn’t involved in any other way.
In September 2013, during the Bernkastel Kues Weinfest, the young 22 year old Kenyan man allegedly broke into a car and stole a GPS from a car that was parked along the B53 between Bernkastel-Kues and Graach. He was sentenced to 8 months imprisonment, because he was allegedly the one who entered the car and stole. His accomplice the 23 year old, apparently stood by and watched.
The accused hardly defended themselves nor gave their own version of the incident, although shortly before the ruling the 22 year old announced that he hadn’t been anywhere near the crime scene. This was countered by a statement by two policemen who had been on patrol that day. The police said they had seen the man an hour earlier along that road. According to them, he was wearing a light t-shirt and a baseball cap. The description matched that of the car owners who found the perpetrators in action. The man’s skin color was also used to describe him by the owners of the car.
The other defendant was definitely at the spot but crossed to the other side of the road when he saw the Belgian pair approach. He later came back briefly when the couple called him. He told the couple that he was just waiting for someone who was coming to pick him up.
The lawyers to the two men, Pierre Wolff and Urban Lamberty, complained that the sentence was too harsh for such a simple and harmless act. According to the judge, Jan Kipper, both young men had been arrested several times for other petty crimes and had also been sentenced once before. The lawyers also didn’t agree with the story used to sentence the men, sighting that the story didn’t make sense. The owners of the car didn’t come to the hearing, so their side of the story wasn’t heard and only the version shared by the police was used, a fact the lawyers found unfair. Also the claim that the man broke into the car didn’t add up because the street isn’t a deserted one also the incident took place during a the wine festival in the area. Their arguement is that if the man actually broke into the car, then those living on that street or those attending the festival would have seen him and thus the case would have had more witnesses.