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CRIME

Care home workers go on trial for murdering residents ‘out of boredom’

Three care home workers went on trial Monday in Germany accused of killing two elderly residents and abusing a string of others, with prosecutors saying they acted "out of boredom".

Care home workers go on trial for murdering residents 'out of boredom'
The care home in Lambrecht. Photo: DPA

The case could take on a larger dimension with investigators now looking into 40 deaths at the care home in the western town of Lambrecht.

The alleged crimes in the trial that opened Monday came to light when a co-worker discovered mobile phone footage of the abuse, according to DPA news agency.

The suspects, two men and a woman, stand accused of suffocating an 85-year-old woman with a pillow, after deliberately injecting her with insulin.

The two male defendants face a second murder charge for fatally injecting a 62-year-old woman with insulin.

All three are accused of attempted murder for allegedly trying to kill an 89-year-old woman with insulin and morphine injections, as well as a case of serious sexual assault.

The offences are said to have taken place in 2015 and 2016.

Prosecutors allege that the trio also mistreated the elderly in their care by throwing items at them and unnecessarily administering drugs such as laxatives, and took pictures and video footage of the abuse on their phones.

“The accused acted out of boredom. They wanted to exercise power over the residents out of base motives and malice,” prosecutor Herbert Stroeber was quoted as saying by Bild newspaper.

The trial is scheduled to run until the end of November, according to DPA.

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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