Gunman’s father probed for negligent homicide

Police on Monday said they were investigating the father of the teenage gunman who murdered 15 people last week in southwestern Germany for negligent homicide.

Gunman's father probed for negligent homicide
Photo: DPA

Tim Kretschmer’s father kept a dozen weapons at his home and his son is thought to have found the nine-millimetre pistol he used in the massacre in the town of Winnenden outside Stuttgart in his parent’s bedroom.

The 17-year-old also apparently knew the code to the weapons safe where his father kept thousands of rounds of ammunition.

“There are concrete indications that the parents were aware of their son’s health problems,” prosecutors said in a statement, referring to reports Kretschmer suffered from depression.

New details also emerged earlier on Monday about Tim’s activities at his father’s shooting club.

The teenage gunman responsible for the bloodbath at a school in southwestern Germany did not train regularly at the club – but he reportedly took target practice there just a few weeks before the massacre.

Kretschmer was only a “passive member” at the gun club SSV Leutenbach, chairman Detlef Lindacher told daily Stuttgarter Nachrichten on Monday.

“The boy shot his father’s nine millimetre in his presence only once in October 2008 on the pistol range,” Lindacher said.

However, the paper reported there were credible witnesses who saw the 17-year-old shooting a large-calibre weapon at the range only three weeks before he would kill 15 people in the state of Baden-Württemberg. Kretschmer then turned his father’s nine-millimetre pistol on himself during a shoot-out with police.

Apparently the club has no record of the boy taking target practice on his own even though people saw him there.

After the first victim of the Winnenden school massacre was buried over the weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested surprise visits to gun owners to see if they are storing their weapons properly.

Merkel has avoided making rash demands or suggestions for new laws following the massacre in Winnenden, but spoke on Deutschlandfunk radio on Sunday calling for more attention to be given to young people.

“We must do everything to see that children do not get weapons, and certainly that they are not encouraged to violence. We have to pay attention to all young people. That goes for parents, and it goes for teachers,” she said.

She added that authorities should consider surprise visits to gun owners to see that they have their firearms locked away as prescribed by the law.

Meanwhile students from the school began their lessons again at another location on Monday morning, the state educational authority announced. About one dozen mental health workers have been made available for those in need of counselling.


101-year-old former Nazi guard pleads innocent in German trial

A 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard on Monday once again denied being complicit in war crimes during the Holocaust as his trial drew to a close in Germany.

101-year-old former Nazi guard pleads innocent in German trial

Josef Schütz, the oldest person so far to face trial over Nazi crimes during World War II, is accused of involvement in the murders of 3,518 prisoners at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945.

The pensioner, who now lives in Brandenburg state, has pleaded innocent throughout the trial, 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 again at the close of the proceedings, his voice wavering.

Dressed in a grey shirt and pyjama bottoms and sitting in a wheelchair, Schütz insisted he had had nothing to do with the atrocities and was “telling the truth”.

READ ALSO: Ex-Nazi death camp secretary who fled trial to face court in Germany

Prosecutors say he “knowingly and willingly” participated in the crimes as a guard at the camp and are seeking to punish him with five years behind bars.

But Schütz’s lawyer, Stefan Waterkamp, said that since there were no photographs of him wearing an SS uniform, the case was based on “hints” of his possible involvement.

“As early as 1973, investigators had information about him but did not pursue him. At the time, witnesses could have been heard but now they are all dead or no longer able to speak,” Waterkamp said.

Former Nazi guard

The 101-year-old former Nazi guard covers his face at the Neuruppin courthouse. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

It would be a mistake for the court to try to “make up for the mistakes of a previous generation of judges”, the lawyer said.

Antoine Grumbach, 80, whose father died in Sachsenhausen, told AFP Schuetz “does not want to remember”, calling it “a form of defence”.

The trial was not just about “putting a centenarian in prison”, he said. It had also produced evidence that Sachsenhausen was an “experimental extermination camp”.

“All the cruellest methods were invented there and then exported,” Grumbach said.

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