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98-year-old man charged for complicity in murder of over 3,300 people in Nazi concentration camp

The man was an adolescent when he worked as an SS watchman in the Sachsenhausen camp during World War II.

GERMAN PROSECUTORS HAVE charged a 98-year-old former SS guard for complicity in the killings of over 3,300 people at a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.

The German man, who was not named by prosecutors, was a teenager when he started working as a SS watchman at the Sachsenhausen camp in July 1943. He stayed there until February 1945.

He is accused of “having assisted in the cruel and insidious killing of thousands of prisoners” in the camp, said prosecutor Thomas Hauburger.

A psychiatric assessment in October 2022 of the suspect has found that he is fit to stand trial within certain limits.

Given his young age at the time of the alleged crime, a juvenile court will decide whether to open proceedings.

Germany has seen a stream of legal action against ageing former SS guards, after case law was set in 2011 with the conviction of former guard John Demjanjuk on the basis that he served as part of the Nazi killing machine at the Sobibor camp in occupied Poland.

Since then, Germany has been racing to put on trial surviving SS personnel on those grounds rather than for murders or atrocities directly linked to the individual accused.

But given the advanced age of the accused, many trials have had to be cancelled for health reasons.

Convictions also do not lead to actual imprisonment, with some defendants dying before they could even begin to serve their jail terms.

Among those found guilty in these late trials were Oskar Groening, an accountant at Auschwitz, and Reinhold Hanning, a former SS guard at the same camp.

Both men were found guilty for complicity in mass murder at age 94 but died before they could be imprisoned.

A 101-year-old ex Nazi camp guard, Josef Schuetz, was convicted last year, becoming the oldest so far to be put on trial for complicity.

He died in April while awaiting the outcome of an appeal against his five-year jail sentence.

© AFP 2023