A court in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, has sentenced a husband and wife, described by a prosecutor as "monsters," to 15 years in prison each on the basis of evidence that they were systematically torturing their children, a boy aged 10 and a girl aged 9.

The court heard that the couple would force their children to commit robberies and would submit them to torture when they returned from their forays empty-handed.

Doctors who examined both children and testified at the trial said they found abundant evidence of systematic beatings and of burns inflicted with cigarettes.

Psychologists who questioned the children heard that they would be tied up for extended hours, beaten with a rolling pin or a stick and starved, while their parents often ate in front of them as part of their "punishment."

The 35-year-old mother admitted to hitting her children but tried to brush off their injuries by saying that they were "naughty" and often hurt themselves.

The father said that he will do everything in his power to "get his children back" from social services, which have been caring for the young boy and girl since one of their teachers, in the town of Katerini, reported signs of abuse.

The judges imposed a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison after rejecting a recommendation from the couple's defense that they be granted conditional release on the basis that they had no prior criminal record and had expressed remorse for their crimes.