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CRIME

Top German EADS exec held in insider trading probe

A former top Airbus executive and current head of a German EADS plant, Andreas Sperl, was held for questioning in France on Wednesday for alleged insider trading.

Top German EADS exec held in insider trading probe
A file photo of Andreas Sperl. Photo: DPA

Sources close to the case said the 61-year-old Sperl is one of 17 people, including four Germans, suspected by French stock market investigators of using inside knowledge about production delays at Airbus to make massive gains on share sales.

A former chief financial officer at Airbus, Sperl now heads a subsidiary EADS plant in the eastern German city of Dresden. He is the first serving top executive at the European Aeronautic Defence Space Company to be questioned in the probe.

He was being questioned by French financial investigators, who can hold him in custody for up to 48 hours, after which he could be brought before a judge to face possible charges, the sources said.

According to a report by France’s financial market regulator, AMF, Sperl sold 58,000 EADS shares in November 2005 and March 2006, earning €816,000 ($1.28 million), before Airbus revealed production delays with its A380 superjumbo.

The announcement in June 2006 of a six-month production delay on the new A380, the world’s largest airliner, threw EADS and its aircraft unit into crisis.

The former boss of Airbus, German Gustav Humbert, was charged by French authorities with insider trading on July 2.

Two French former EADS executives, Noel Forgeard and Jean-Paul Gut, have already been charged with the same offence. Forgeard and Gut have denied any wrongdoing, and Humbert’s lawyer has said that the accusations are unfounded.

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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