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CRIME

Faulty AC could cost spy headquarters €9.7 mln

Authorities have discovered serious defects in the air conditioning system of the new headquarters being built to house Germany’s BND foreign intelligence service, potentially costing nearly €10 million to fix.

Faulty AC could cost spy headquarters €9.7 mln
Photo: DPA

There have been multiple problems since ground was broken in 2008 on the new Berlin headquarters of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), which was supposed to cost €720 million. The organization’s roughly 4,000 workers were slated to move from Bavaria to Berlin next year, but its opening has been delayed until 2014.

Among the project’s biggest scandals happened this summer when it was revealed that building plans had mysteriously disappeared. It is also likely to run over cost by more than €80 million.

In the end, total costs for the new building, including relocating employees and technology will near €2 billion.

The troubles with the air conditioning unit are particularly galling because the contractor apparently failed to follow basic regulations, according to the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper. The air conditioner’s ventilation systems are inadequate and it was inexplicably never tested before its installation, the newspaper reported.

Andreas Kübler, spokesman for the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR), said the defects had been “promptly detected,” but the government couldn’t get the responsible firm to adequately fix the problems.

The company’s contract was therefore terminated by the government, Kübler told the Morgenpost. It seems likely that taxpayers will have to pick up the €9.7 million tab for the reinstallation.

The BND declined to comment on the situation.

The Local/mdm

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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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