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JUSTICE

‘Unfit for trial’: German court ends case against former Nazi camp guard, 95

A German court said Wednesday it had dropped a case against a former Nazi concentration camp guard, finding the seriously ill 95-year-old unfit for trial.

'Unfit for trial': German court ends case against former Nazi camp guard, 95
Rehbogen on trial in November. Photo: DPA

Johann Rehbogen was accused of complicity in mass murder at the Stutthof camp near what was then Danzig, now Gdansk in Poland.

His trial began on November 6th but was suspended as he suffered from serious heart and kidney problems.

SEE ALSO: German ex-SS concentration camp guard, 94, weeps in court

Given the gravity of his ailments, the court in Münster ended the case, deeming him “permanently unfit for trial”.

Rehbogen was aged 18 to 20 when he served as a guard from June 1942 to September 1944 at the Stutthof camp.

The German, from the western district of Borken, North Rhine-Westphalia state, was charged with being an accessory to the murders of several hundred camp prisoners.

These included more than 100 Polish prisoners gassed in June 1944 and “probably several hundred” Jews killed from August to December 1944 as part of the Nazis' so-called “Final Solution”.

He broke down in tears at the trial opening and subsequently told the court he was ashamed of having been in the SS.

The former Stutthof concentration camp, now a memorial site. Photo: DPA

Rehbogen however insisted that he was unaware of the systematic killings at the camp.

The trial is among a handful of the final such cases involving surviving SS personnel.

The cases have resurfaced since the legal basis for prosecuting former Nazis changed in 2011 with the landmark conviction of former guard John Demjanjuk.

He was sentenced on the grounds that he served as a cog in the Nazi killing machine at the Sobibor camp in occupied Poland, rather than for killings or atrocities linked to him personally.

German courts subsequently convicted Oskar Gröning, an accountant at Auschwitz, and Reinhold Hanning, a former SS guard at the same camp, for complicity in mass murder.

Both men were convicted at age 94 but died before they could be imprisoned.

SEE ALSO: Ex-SS guard ashamed, but tells German court he's innocent

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COURTS

Woman on trial over killing spree at Potsdam care home

The trial began on Tuesday of a woman accused of stabbing four residents to death and severely injuring another at a German care home for disabled people where she worked outside Berlin.

Tributes laid where four people were killed at a care home in Potsdam.
Tributes laid where four people were killed at a care home in Potsdam. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Soeren Stache

Named as Ines Andrea R., the 52-year-old suspect is charged with four counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder following the bloodbath at the Thusnelda-von-Saldern-Haus facility in Potsdam, Brandenburg, in April.

The victims, two women and two men aged between 31 and 56, were found dead in their rooms after being stabbed with a knife, with police saying they had been subjected to “intense, extreme violence”.

Ines Andrea R. is also accused of trying to kill two further residents and of seriously injuring another, a woman aged 43.

She was detained immediately after the incident and placed in urgent psychiatric care due to what prosecutors described as “pertinent evidence” of severe mental illness.

Around 100 police officers were involved in recovering evidence at the scene.

READ ALSO: Women in custody over killings at Potsdam disabled home

The Thusnelda-von-Saldern-Haus, run by the Lutheran Church’s social welfare service, specialises in helping those with physical and mental disabilities, including blind, deaf and severely autistic patients.

It offers live-in care as well as schools and workshops.

Around 65 people live at the residence, which employs more than 80 people.

Germany has seen a number of high-profile murder cases from care facilities.

In the most prominent trial, nurse Niels Högel was sentenced in 2019 to life in prison for murdering 85 patients in his care.

READ ALSO: Missed chances: How Germany’s killer nurse got away with 85 murders

Högel, believed to be Germany’s most prolific serial killer, murdered patients with lethal injections between 2000 and 2005, before he was eventually caught in the act.

Last year, a Polish healthcare worker was sentenced to life in prison in Munich for killing at least three people with insulin.

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