FRANKFURT AN DER ODER, Germany – A woman suspected of killing nine of her newborn babies went on trial Thursday in a case that shocked Germans and fueled calls for tighter protection for minors.
Police arrested Sabine Hilschinz after discovering the remains of the nine infants last July buried in flower pots and a fish tank in the garden of her parents' home in a village near the Polish border.
Hilschinz, 40, appeared Thursday before a state court where she faces eight charges of manslaughter over the deaths of the infants. She could be jailed for up to 15 years if convicted.
The death of a ninth child is covered by a statute of limitations.
Defense lawyer Matthias Schoeneburg told the court on Thursday that his client wished to make no statement. Presiding Judge Matthias Fuchs instead read out an account of her testimony at a hearing after her arrest.
Last August, Hilschinz told a judge that she could remember properly only two of the births because, in the other cases, she got drunk when she went into labor.
"We already had three children, and my husband didn't want any more children," she said, according to the transcript. She added that "I always hoped my husband would notice the pregnancies of his own accord."
She said she had drowned her sorrows over the dead babies in alcohol, and had not got herself sterilized because she feared a gynecologist would notice traces of the births.
Prosecutors say DNA tests prove that the children, who are believed to have died between 1988 and 1998, each of them shortly after their birth, were those of Hilschinz and her former husband.
Hilschinz listened calmly as the transcript was read out.
According to prosecutors, the woman wrapped the corpses in plastic bags and buried them in the flower pots, which initially were kept on the balcony of her apartment.
The court earlier dropped murder charges against Hilschinz, arguing there was insufficient evidence that she had intended to hide her alleged crime.
It remains unclear how the pregnancies went unnoticed by family members and friends. Hilschinz also has three living adult children and one young daughter.