Cadet Death Case Reopened After Sex Tape Claims

German prosecutors have reopened the case of a female cadet who allegedly fell from a navy training ship amid claims she was raped and murdered after threatening to speak out about a sex tape.

The high-profile incident took place on the elite German Navy vessel ‘Gorch Fock’ where cadets are trained to become naval officers.

The case has stumped the authorities since it happened in September 2008 off the coast of the German island of Norderney.

Jenny Boeken, 18, had impressed her superiors during training and was expected to become an esteemed officer when the incident happened.

Credit: CEN/Felix Koenig
Archive: German Navy’s training ship Gorch Fock

She went overboard and her body was discovered 11 days later. However, the circumstances behind the incident were never fully established and the case was finally ruled an accident, with investigations being halted in 2009.

The public prosecutor’s office in Kiel, a major navy port in the northernmost German state of Schleswig-Holstein, has now decided to reopen the case after a new witness came forward a few months ago.

Local media said that the witness was a male friend of Boeken who was then enlisted in the German Army but who has since left the service and become a trans woman.

The witness first contacted the lawyer of Boeken’s family several months ago reportedly claiming that Boeken had been raped on board the ship and that she became pregnant before being killed.

But German media have now reported that the witness also claimed to have had consensual sex with Boeken while both were drunk at a party in Dusseldorf, which was attended by several cadets and soldiers and took place shortly before the Gorch Fock set sail.

The alleged sexual encounter was reportedly secretly filmed by other sailors of the Gorch Fock who then circulated it around the ship, which led to Boeken threatening to report the matter to senior officers.

Credit: CEN/Felix Koenig
Archive: German Navy’s training ship Gorch Fock

So far, prosecutors are unwilling to comment on the nature of the new evidence and witness statements.

When the witness first came forward, chief prosecutor Axel Bieler said “we are reviewing the statement and will decide if the case should be reopened”, something which has now happened.

The Boeken family never believed that Jenny had died in an accident and previously launched a court case against the German authorities, blaming them for “lax safety rules” and poor conditions on board the vessel, but the case was dismissed.

An online petition started by the family and calling for the case to be reopened even gathered 140,546 signatures.

The family’s lawyer, Rainer Dietz, said that the decision to reopen the case is a “long overdue message”.

According to Jenny’s mother, she is said to have recorded explosive events about the ship in a diary which has never been uncovered.

Before she died, she is said to have told her mother: “You’ll be shocked when you read what is going on.” 

Credit: CEN/Hermann Dirkes
Archive: German Navy’s training ship Gorch Fock

Boeken’s death was not the only recent incident on board the Gorch Fock involving a female cadet.

On 7th November 2010, 25-year-old female cadet Sarah Schmidt fell 100 feet to her death from one of the masts during an exercise in the port of Salvador de Bahia in Brazil during a round-the-world trip.

The other cadets refused to continue the exercise, forcing the journey to be cut short and causing great embarrassment to the German Navy.

Captain Norbert Schatz reported that he was in a ‘Captain Bligh’ situation – a reference to the famous Mutiny on the Bounty in 1789 when sailors on a British warship overpowered their captain William Bligh and cast him adrift.

After the mutiny, the commanding officer was suspended, and a commission was appointed to investigate claims of sexual harassment and improper conduct. However, on 13th March 2011, all charges against the commanding officer were dismissed.

Gorch Fock has been in service since 1958 and has seen more than 14,500 cadets trained on board.

Six sailors have died on the ship over the past 50 years.

To find out more about the author, editor or agency that supplied this story – please click below.
Story By: Koen BerghuisSub-EditorJoseph Golder, Agency: Central European News

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