The need to defecate was probably just the pretext: A 47-year-old defendant fled the district court in Coburg on Monday. Search dogs and police helicopters initially tried in vain to track down the man who was on trial on suspicion of sexual abuse of his two daughters and who was also in custody. The case in Coburg is the second in less than two months in which a defendant uses a hearing before a Bavarian court to flee.

A convicted murderer fled in Regensburg in January – as in the Coburg case – through an insufficiently secured window on the ground floor of the building. Only days later, French police officers were able to arrest him 110 kilometers north of Strasbourg. The police and judiciary in Bavaria breathed a sigh of relief – and vowed to improve.

Interior Minister announces consequences

The state parliament opposition called for comprehensive clarification and tightening of security precautions. The incidents fueled doubts about the security of Bavarian courthouses, the Greens and the FDP said almost in unison. Minister of Justice Georg Eisenreich (CSU) must report to the legal committee of the state parliament, the FDP demanded. The SPD called for closer coordination between the police and the prison service.

Bavaria’s Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann (CSU) immediately announced the consequences. “It is completely out of the question if a prisoner manages to escape. I expect the police headquarters in Upper Franconia to provide comprehensive information on the background to the escape,” said Herrmann. Already after the escape of the prisoner in Regensburg, all police headquarters were sensitized in detail, Herrmann emphasized and announced: “Together with the judiciary, we will take the present case as an opportunity to put the operational concepts for guarding prisoners to the test.”

Minister of Justice Georg Eisenreich (CSU) emphasized that he had ordered every Bavarian court to report to its ministry on its security concept. “It is unacceptable when prisoners manage to escape from Bavarian courts, said the minister. “Security gaps are unacceptable.”

The accused is charged with 100 cases of abuse

What puts the police and judiciary in particular need of explanation: The case in Coburg is almost identical in construction to the Regensburg court flight: the court ordered the waiver of shackles for the duration of the hearing, said a court spokesman. There was no permission not to put on the shackles even during the break in the meeting. However, the shackles were not reattached.

It was precisely this circumstance that the 47-year-old was obviously able to use: According to the spokesman, he fled the upper floor of the courthouse, where the hearing took place, via the stairs. He turned into a downstairs lounge, broke the lock on the window, and escaped. Officials from the police and judiciary could no longer keep up.

The refugee is a father of seven. He is accused of sexually abusing his two daughters. In total, he is charged with 100 cases of abuse, including the attempted rape of his daughters. According to a media report, on the third day of the main hearing two weeks ago, the court issued an arrest warrant for the man. Reason: risk of flight.

Since then, the man has been in the Kronach correctional facility. From there he was brought to the court in Coburg by a police patrol on Monday morning. The two police officers were also responsible for his care throughout the day, said a police spokesman.

The police and judiciary reacted to the incident in Regensburg in January and began examining security in the courts. One of the findings from that time is that the escape was “favoured by the lack of knowledge of the demonstration officers about structural and safety-related conditions”. As a result, cooperation between non-local police forces and local security personnel should be intensified, according to a joint police and judiciary statement on January 23.