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CRIME

Judge backs police breaking up concerts pre-emptively

A court in Koblenz has ruled that police may break up public events pre-emptively on the grounds that they expect crimes to be committed.

Judge backs police breaking up concerts pre-emptively
Photo: DPA

Koblenz’ administrative court ruled on Monday that the police had acted correctly when they broke up a skinhead concert on the grounds that they expected Nazi propaganda to be spread there.

Those at the concert in Sinzig were given an official police order to leave the area, and to stay out of the town – and the nearby towns of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler and Remagen.

Organisers made a legal complaint, saying the concert was a private birthday party and that no crime had been committed.

The first point was dismissed by the judge, who pointed to the cash desk, sale of drinks and entrance stamps on the hands of those present.

The judge ruled further that the police’s prognosis that the music lyrics were going to include illegal texts, was justified by the fact that the music was stopped after somebody shouted, “The pigs are coming,” the court ruled.

Torn up pages were later discovered behind the stage, containing what the court said were texts which were “at least offensive to foreigners”.

Further justification for the November 2008 concert being broken up in the expectation that otherwise crimes such as incitement to violence, would be committed, included the fact that the atmosphere was aggressive, and that many people there were dressed in skinhead fashions.

The judge said that the banning of the concert-goers from the surrounding towns was also acceptable on the grounds that the police were justified in expecting them to commit crimes in frustration that their concert had been stopped.

An appeal against the ruling is possible, and has not yet been ruled out.

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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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