Europe

Germany 'exorcism' death: Five S Koreans held in Frankfurt

Hotel InterContinental in Frankfurt Image copyright AP
Image caption Among those arrested at the hotel was the victim's 15-year-old son

German police have arrested five relatives of a South Korean woman who died in an apparent exorcism ritual, prosecutors say.

The 41-year-old woman was found dead in a Frankfurt hotel room after being gagged and severely beaten.

Chief prosecutor Nadja Niesen said the family members wanted to "drive out a demon" they believed had possessed her.

Police later discovered another suspected victim, a badly injured woman, in the town of Sulzbach.

She was found suffering hypothermia and dehydration in the garage of a house the group had rented in the town west of Frankfurt, according to reports.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption An injured woman was said to have been found suffering hypothermia and nearly dying of thirst in the basement of this house in Sulzbach

Among the five South Koreans arrested on suspicion of murder was the woman's 15-year-old son, who investigators believe may have taken part in the violence.

A 44-year-old woman was also being held with her 21-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter, and another boy of 15.

The 41-year-old woman had been severely beaten in her chest and stomach. A towel and a cloth-covered coat hanger had been pushed into her mouth to stifle her screams.

The chief prosecutor said the victim had been subjected to an ordeal that lasted at least two hours. "I've never come across anything like it," she said.

The Associated Press reported that the police had been alerted by a Catholic priest, but the German news agency DPA said it was unclear who had found the dead victim at the Frankfurt InterContinental hotel.

DPA said investigators did not know which religious group the suspects belonged to. It said the five suspects had arrived in Frankfurt about six weeks earlier.

Frankfurt lies in the Catholic diocese of Limburg and officials there said exorcism only ever took place under very strict rules and supervision, and with the bishop's permission.

More on this story