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CRIME

Husband arrested for burning wife to death on street

A 41-year-old man had been detained on suspicion of murder, after he is believed to have set fire to his wife on a street in the northern town of Kiel on Wednesday.

Husband arrested for burning wife to death on street
Photo: DPA

“We think it's clear in this case that malevolence and brutality, both requisites for a murder charge, exist,” said state prosecutor Axel Bieler on Thursday.

Ambulance crews took the severely burned woman to hospital on Wednesday morning after pedestrians found her on a street on the outskirts of Kiel. She was taken to a specialist clinic shortly afterwards, but later died from her injuries.

Soon after, her 41-year-old husband was arrested.

The man and woman, both originally from Togo, had lived in Germany for around 20 years with permit residency status, police report.

Authorities added that they believe the motive for the crime was a relationship dispute between the husband and wife, who lived separately from one another.

The Kieler Nachrichten reports that he man poured fuel over his wife before setting her alight. Police sources told the newspaper that a “fire accelerant” had been used.

The paper also spoke to witnesses who said that the woman ran down the street away from the suspect as flames rose from her body. Several people attempted to put out the fire, but struggled to do so.

The suspect's trousers also reportedly caught alight. But he was able to put out the flames before fleeing into a nearby industrial area.

Police say they are questioning several witnesses in order to establish the course of events.

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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