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Germany extends statute of limitations on abuse

BERLIN >> Germans who were sexually abused as children will now have up to 30 years after their 21st birthday to bring their alleged attackers before the courts.

The change was triggered by last year’s sex abuse scandal that rocked the nation’s Roman Catholic Church.

The previous statute of limitations on civil abuse cases was only three years. Criminal cases have a statute of limitations ranging from three to 30 years, depending on the charges.

Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger praised the legislation, approved Wednesday by Cabinet, for strengthening victims’ rights.

Parliament is expected to pass the legislation later this year.

Germany, the homeland of Pope Benedict XVI, was part of a European wave of allegations of abuse by clerics.

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