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CRIME

Frankfurt police bust online child porn ring with nearly 90,000 members

Frankfurt prosecutors said on Thursday they had shut down a major online child pornography platform, used by more than 87,000 members to organize sexual abuse of children.

Frankfurt police bust online child porn ring with nearly 90,000 members
File photo: DPA.

The site known as 'Elysium' “was used for global exchanges of child pornography by its members and to arrange meetings to sexually abuse children,” prosecutors in the western city of Frankfurt said in a statement.

Its 87,000 members traded images and video files of “the most serious sexual abuse of children, including babies, and representations of sexual violence against children,” the statement continued.

After months of investigation, authorities arrested a 39-year-old man from the Limburg-Weilburg district north of Frankfurt in mid-June, and are questioning him in custody.

“The suspect is believed to have been largely responsible for the creation of the technical infrastructure of the platform as its administrator,” prosecutors said, adding that they had found the server used to store the darknet site's data during a search of his flat.

Darknet sites like the one uncovered in the case are invisible to most internet users and can only be accessed by using encryption technology.

They have repeatedly been used by criminals to trade drugs, weapons and child pornography.

Investigators have identified other administrators and members of the ring and arrested some of them, mostly in Germany and Austria.

Among them are people accused of serious sexual abuse of children as well as distribution of child pornography, the statement said.

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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