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CRIME

Elderly Nazi killer begins life prison term

As a last drive to arrest elderly Nazi war-criminals heats up, a 90-year-old former SS assassin began his life jail sentence Thursday handed down by a German court for shooting dead three civilians in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands.

Elderly Nazi killer begins life prison term
Photo: DPA

Heinrich Boere, who confessed to the killings as part of an SS hit squad in 1944, was brought to a prison hospital, the public prosecutor’s office in the city of Aachen said, 21 months after being sentenced.

An expert had declared Boere – who suffers from heart problems and is wheelchair-bound – fit enough to begin his term provided certain medical care was provided, a spokesman said.

He had been staying at a nursing home until space became available at the prison hospital in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

On several occasions, Boere admitted to shooting in cold blood pharmacist Fritz Bicknese, bicycle shop owner Teunis de Groot and Frans-Willem Kusters.

But he argued that as a member of an SS commando unit tasked with killing suspected resistance members or supporters, he risked being sent to a concentration camp if he refused.

He spent six decades one step ahead of the law after escaping from a prisoner-of war camp in 1947 and returning to his birthplace in Germany.

Boere, whose father was Dutch and who grew up in the Netherlands, was sentenced to death in Amsterdam – in absentia – in 1949. The sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.

Afterwards, he remained a free man – working as a coal miner in Germany until 1976 – as Germany refused to extradite him in the 1980s, saying it was unable to determine if he was German or stateless.

Germany as a rule does not extradite its citizens to stand trial in other countries.

The Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center launched a new drive in Germany Wednesday to catch the last perpetrators of the Holocaust still at large based on a groundbreaking precedent set by the May conviction of former camp guard John Demjanjuk, 91.

AFP/mdm

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GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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