S-Bahn managers face criminal probe

Berlin state prosecutors are to extend their investigation into the mismanagement that led to the current chaos on the city’s S-Bahn public transport system, newspaper Berliner Morgenpost reported Sunday.

S-Bahn managers face criminal probe
Photo: DPA

S-Bahn boss Tobias Heinemann and other members of the company’s executive board are accused of consistently ignoring train maintenance schedules and allowing damaged wagons to return to service unrepaired.

Should they be found guilty of endangering rail traffic, four former heads of the S-Bahn could face jail terms of up to five years.

Simone Herbeth, spokeswoman for Berlin’s justice department told the newspaper that the prosecutors first needed to decide if the managers’ actions constituted a deliberate violation, or whether they had simply “exhausted their margin of administrative discretion.”

State prosecutors are hoping that a report into the matter received from the Federal Railway Authority (EBA) will help to answer questions, but these documents are yet to be analysed. Herbeth said that a quick conclusion was unlikely.

The extension of the investigation suggests that prosecutors are beginning to widen their attention to other S-Bahn employees. “Should suspicion fall on other people, then of course further investigations will be initiated, but we are still in the very early stages,” Herbeth said.

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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