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CRIME

Couple held in Passau neo-Nazi knife attack released

A 22-year-old woman and her 33-year-old husband who were arrested under suspicion of involvement in a knife attack with far-right overtones on a police chief in Passau were released on Tuesday. Police have no new leads in the case.

Couple held in Passau neo-Nazi knife attack released
A police drawing of the knifing suspect's classy tattoo. Photo: DPA

Investigators had hoped that the couple from Munich, who are active in right-wing circles, could have led them to the man who stabbed Passau police chief Alois Mannichl outside his home on December 13. But police said they have no concrete evidence against the man and woman. The couple had insisted they played no role in the incident.

It is another blow for investigators looking into the case. Directly after the attack, two men in the twenties from the Passau area were arrested, but released a day later due to a lack of evidence.

Police are still uncertain whether just one individual or a group is behind the stabbing. Witnesses have claimed that on the day of the attack they saw several skinheads in the municipality of Fürstenzell, where Mannichl lives. A 50-person investigative team is looking for two men suspected in the case in both Germany and Austria.

Drawings of two have been released showing men with unusual tattoos – a green snake behind one man’s left ear and a cross on his right cheek. But police say that have no information on the identity of the assailants and that one man might even have both tattoos.

On Saturday, December 13, Mannichl reportedly answered his front door to a tall skinhead at around 5:30 pm. The man said something along the lines of “Greetings from the national resistance,” and added, “You leftist pig cop, you won’t trample on the graves of our comrades anymore,” before stabbing the police chief in the stomach with a 12-centimetre knife.

He then threw the knife away in the garden and ran to a waiting car in a nearby street and was driven away.

The 52-year-old police chief, who is known for being tough on the neo-Nazi scene, was seriously wounded, but has now been released from the hospital.

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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