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CRIME

Berlin U-Bahn killer had history of violence

A man who shoved a 20-year-old woman to her death under a Berlin U-Bahn train on Tuesday evening had a history of violence and drug abuse in Hamburg, media reports revealed on Thursday.

Berlin U-Bahn killer had history of violence
The U-Bahn platform at Ernst-Reuter-Platz in western Berlin's wealthy Charlottenburg district. Photo: DPA

Twenty-eight-year-old Hamin E., a homeless man from Hamburg, had only arrived in Berlin two hours before the fatal event, newspaper BZ reported on Wednesday.

Passengers on the platform grabbed Hamin, an Iranian national born in Germany who has lived his whole life in the northern port city, after he approached the young woman from behind and suddenly shoved her onto the tracks as a train arrived.

The driver was unable to brake in time, but the other people held the perpetrator until police arrived on the scene.

Hamin is well known to authorities in Hamburg, having served two years and nine months in jail for serious bodily harm and robbery after stabbing another man in 2002 when he was aged only 14. He also has a history of drug abuse.

Berlin prosecutors' spokesman Martin Steltner confirmed to The Local that Hamin had been transferred to a psychiatric clinic on Wednesday evening, saying that “he definitely appears to have reduced responsibility” because of mental health problems.

Swedish connection

Swedish media jumped on the story after it emerged that the young victim had links to the Nordic nation.

A spokesperson for the Swedish Embassy in Berlin told The Local on Thursday that she had been living in Berlin and had both Swedish and German citizenship.

The Swedish Church (Svenska Kyrkan) told newspaper Aftonbladet that it would open its doors to any Swedes living in Germany who were concerned about the woman, who has not been publicly named.

“We have laid out our emergency number on Facebook and we are open all day and evening,” said its rector Lena Brolin.

She said that the church wanted to make sure that Berlin's Swedish population had access to information and support.

“Especially in a crisis, it is important for many to talk about what happened in their own language.”

Maddy Savage contributed reporting

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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