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CRIME

German on trial in UK for gaming murder

A German man faces trial in the UK this week, accused of flying to Britain and stabbing a student 86 times after he became obsessed with his victim's girlfriend through a gaming website.

German on trial in UK for gaming murder
Murder victim Matthew Pyke. Photo: Nottingham police

David Heiss, 21, stabbed Matthew Pyke to death in a “savage and sustained” attack at his victim’s flat in Nottingham, the crown court in the central English city was told on Tuesday.

He then borrowed a pair of his victim’s shoes and a baseball cap and flew home.

Heiss, from Limburg, near Frankfurt, had become obsessed with Pyke’s girlfriend, Joanna Witton, jurors were told.

When she rebuffed his declarations of love, he hatched a plan to kill her boyfriend and disguise it as a suicide.

Heiss had met Witton online, on the warscentral.com site she ran with Pyke from their one-bedroom flat above a pub.

The court heard that he managed to obtain the address of her flat from a fellow game player and twice travelled to Britain, in June and July last year, to meet Witton face-to-face.

She and Pyke, her long-term boyfriend, allowed him to sleep in their flat before he returned to Germany, but Heiss became more persistent and the Britons became increasingly concerned by his behaviour.

In an online message, Pyke told the German: “I hate you because you decided to come into our lives. I hate you for ever laying eyes on the girl I have dedicated my life to. I hate you for your desperation.”

The prosecution says that in September last year, Heiss flew to Britain and lay in wait outside Pyke’s home.

After seeing his girlfriend leave for work, Heiss pounced on Pyke, plunging a knife into him 86 times, before changing his clothes and fleeing to Germany.

Prosecuting lawyer Shaun Smith told the court: “It’s the prosecution case that Matthew had absolutely no chance at that door, where that blood is. He was stabbed straight away by this defendant.”

Heiss denies murder. The trial is expected to last two weeks.

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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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