German couple accused of torturing women to death appear in court

GERMANY - A couple accused of luring women to their house in western Germany and torturing them so badly that at least two died went on trial on Wednesday, accused of murder by neglect.

Angelika B., 47, who is now estranged from her partner, entered the courtroom first, shielding her face behind a file.

Wilfried W., a bearded 46-year-old, stood calmly and looked at photographers as he entered the court in Paderborn, in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Investigators have accused the pair of using online personal advertisements to lure women to their home in the small town of Hoexter.

Police were drawn to the house after a woman, aged 41 and identified as Susanne F., died in hospital in April from injuries related to torture.

Wilfried W.'s lawyer said the former couple were at odds over who was the driving force behind the crimes. "The ex-wife is portraying him as the main perpetrator, at least in her latest statements," said Detlev Otto Binder, speaking to reporters outside the courtroom. "We hope that she will pedal back from her latest statements and that she will actually recollect how things actually happened: that she was actually the decisive and driving force in the events," he added.

Peter Wueller, lawyer for Angelika W. said: "she will lay everything on the table." A ruling is not expected before March.