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German 'witch' pronounced innocent... after 385 years

A woman who was burned at the stake in Cologne almost 400 years ago has been vindicated after a retrial.

A GERMAN WOMAN who suffered a fiery death almost 400 years ago has finally been acquitted of practising black magic.

Katharina Henot, believed to be the first female postmistress of Cologne, was arrested in January 1627 after a local nun claimed that she was a witch and had caused the deaths of several people in the region.

Henot was severely tortured before her death – so much so that the right-handed woman had to sign her final denial of witchcraft charges with her left hand. Although she vigourously denied the charges and her brother also lobbied tirelessly for her release, she was eventually found guilty, paraded through the streets in a wagon and then burned at the stake.

It is believed that about 25,000 Germans lost their lives during the country’s witch trials throughout the centuries. Many of those killed for their supposed crimes have never been cleared – meaning they are still guilty in the eyes of the law, according to The Local.

It is thought that, as the head of the city’s post office and a powerful socialite, Henot was likely a victim of politically-motivated feud.

The person who recently pushed for the case to be revisited is a priest called Hartmut Hegeler, 65, from Unna, western Germany. Hegeler wanted to clear Henot’s name as part of an awareness campaign about the continuing persecution of women across the world.

Henot’s case was reopened yesterday by  Cologne City Council, the same authority that sentenced her to a terrible fate four centuries ago. Officials found that Henot had been convicted on trumped-up charges of sorcery and exonerated her, The Australian reports.

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