( dpa ) - A German court jailed a couple Thursday for repeated cruelty to a 13-year-old girl from Mongolia while she was being trained for a circus act.
The girl, who now lives in a children's home, said she could not do the difficult contortionist tricks prescribed by her cousin, 36, a former top acrobat from Mongolia, and the woman's circus-loving German husband, 44.
The couple, who were training a troupe of Mongolian girls in their house in Mainz, western Germany, beat and poked the 13-year-old with a bamboo rod and hung her by her wrists from a hook on the wall using adhesive tape.
The woman received five years in prison and her husband three-and- a-half years for assault, cruelty and kidnap.
"You believed you had imported a sports device from Asia, but it didn't work, because it was a human being with human feelings," the judge told the couple. "You kept her like a dog in a kennel."
Covered with cuts and bruises, the girl escaped from the couple's home after the beatings from April to July last year and spent two weeks in hospital. Witnesses said she was accused of a "lack of discipline and obedience."
The judge told the woman, "You were a world-class artiste. But you are not competent as a trainer of girls."
The couple agreed to pay the girl 40,000 euros (58,400 dollars) in damages. The judge, who described the victim as a "very nice, smart little girl," said she believed she would get over her nightmares after the ordeal.