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CRIME

Autobahn motorist again targeted by falling debris

Only days after a German woman was killed after someone threw a wood block onto her car from an Autobahn overpass, a motorist in the Ruhr Valley avoided injury in a similar incident.

Autobahn motorist again targeted by falling debris
The car involved in the first deadly incident. Photo: dpa

A stone thrown from a bridge over the A2 motorway near Castrop-Rauxel in North Rhine-Westphalia left a fist-sized indentation in the windscreen of the car, the police said on Thursday.

The incident, which occurred late on Wednesday evening, left the driver shaken but remained uninjured. The authorities are now investigating what appears to be a copycat crime.

A 33-year-old mother of two was killed on Sunday when an unknown person threw a wooden block from a motorway bridge. The block crashed through the windshield and hit the woman, who was sitting in the passenger seat.

The perpetrator, who is now wanted for murder, fled the scene on the A29 motorway near Oldenburg in the German state of Lower Saxony. He is wanted for murder.

According to the police, a similar incident occurred along the same stretch of the A29 several years ago when a stone crashed through the window of a moving vehicle. That time, there were no injuries as no one was sitting in the passenger seat.

CRIME

Former Nazi camp guard, 101, gets five-year jail sentence

A German court on Tuesday handed a five-year jail sentence to a 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard, the oldest person so far to go on trial for complicity in war crimes during the Holocaust.

Former Nazi camp guard, 101, gets five-year jail sentence

Josef S. was found guilty of being an accessory to murder while working as a prison guard at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945, presiding judge Udo Lechtermann said.

The pensioner, who now lives in Brandenburg state, had pleaded innocent, saying he did “absolutely nothing” and was not aware of the gruesome crimes being carried out at the camp.

“I don’t know why I am here,” he said at the close of his trial on Monday.

But prosecutors said he “knowingly and willingly” participated in the murders of 3,518 prisoners at the camp and called for him to be punished with five years behind bars.

READ ALSO: Trials of aging Nazis a ‘reminder for the present’, says German prosecutor

More than 200,000 people, including Jews, Roma, regime opponents and gay people, were detained at the Sachsenhausen camp between 1936 and 1945.

Tens of thousands of inmates died from forced labour, murder, medical experiments, hunger or disease before the camp was liberated by Soviet troops, according to the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum.

Prosecutors said the man had aided and abetted the “execution by firing squad of Soviet prisoners of war in 1942” and the murder of prisoners “using the poisonous gas Zyklon B”.

He was 21 years old at the time.

Contradictory statements

During the trial, S. made several inconsistent statements about his past, complaining that his head was getting “mixed up”.

At one point, the centenarian said he had worked as an agricultural labourer in Germany for most of World War II, a claim contradicted by several historical documents bearing his name, date and place of birth.

After the war, the man was transferred to a prison camp in Russia before returning to Germany, where he worked as a farmer and a locksmith.

He remained at liberty during the trial, which began in 2021 but has been delayed several times because of his health.

Despite his conviction, he is highly unlikely to be put behind bars, given his age.

His lawyer Stefan Waterkamp told AFP ahead of the verdict that if found guilty, he would appeal.

More than seven decades after World War II, German prosecutors are racing to bring the last surviving Nazi perpetrators to justice.

The 2011 conviction of former guard John Demjanjuk, on the basis that he served as part of Hitler’s killing machine, set a legal precedent and paved the way for several of these twilight justice cases.

Since then, courts have handed down several guilty verdicts on those grounds rather than for murders or atrocities directly linked to the individual accused.

By David COURBET

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