The Quality of Mercy

FABIAN BIMMER-AP

Schill was named as interior minister and promised 2,000 more police

In October 1996, a mentally disturbed woman scratched the paint on 10 cars parked along the streets of Hamburg, Germany's freewheeling port city. The woman found herself before a judge named Ronald Barnabas Schill, who promptly sentenced her to two-and-a-half years in prison for her vandalism. Stunned, newspapers branded Schill Judge Merciless, and the sobriquet stuck through a sheaf of draconian sentences. Trading on his law-and-order image, Schill organized his own political party, the Law and Order Offensive, and won a stunning 19.4% of the vote in municipal elections last year. Now he is taking his party to two other states...

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