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CRIME

Youth services admits failure in toddler’s death by neglect

The youth services office in the Bavarian town of Tirschenreuth on Tuesday admitted on partial responsibility in the case of a two-year-old girl whose mother allowed her to starve to death.

Youth services admits failure in toddler's death by neglect
The family home in Tirschenreuth. Photo: DPA

Though it went against procedure, the office did not follow up on a telephone tip from a neighbour about the girl’s situation, district youth services official Josef Hecht said.

“The personnel decided there was no acute danger to the children and therefore did not react,” he said, adding that this was a terrible mistake.

The neighbour reportedly called about six months ago to say the then two-year-old girl and her six-year-old brother no longer went out to play in the building’s yard, but instead could only be seen from their windows. The woman also reported that the children’s grandfather, who lived nearby, was most often seen caring for the children in the town near the Czech border.

On Saturday the girl’s 21-year-old mother found the child, identified as Lea, dead in her bed and alarmed emergency services.

An autopsy showed that Lea had suffered malnutrition, dehydration and various other illnesses.

“One could have, and should have done something,” senior public prosecutor Gerd Schäfer said.

Eyewitnesses described the family’s apartment as “extremely neglected” and “trashed” in the local daily Weidener Zeitung.

Lea’s mother is now in police custody after they issued a warrant for her arrest in an investigation for manslaughter.

So far investigators believe that Lea’s condition worsened over the course of days or a few weeks, but they have refused to speculate on what may have caused her mother’s neglect.

The woman reportedly separated from Lea’s 27-year-old father some months ago, but he is not a suspect in the case.

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CRIME

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

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