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CRIME

Germany charges 100-year-old former Nazi camp guard

A 100-year-old former concentration camp guard has been charged with complicity in 3,518 murders as Germany races to bring surviving Nazi staff to justice, prosecutors told AFP on Monday.

Germany charges 100-year-old former Nazi camp guard
A former watchtower on the grounds of the Sachsenhausen memorial site. Photo: DPA

The man stands accused of “knowingly and willingly” assisting in the murder of prisoners at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945.

He is considered fit to stand trial despite his age, the public prosecutor's office in the town of Neuruppin confirmed after the story was reported by the NDR broadcaster.

The case comes days after German prosecutors charged a former secretary at a Nazi concentration camp with complicity in the murders of 10,000 people, in the first such case in recent years against a woman.

The 95-year-old accused had worked at the Stutthof camp near what was Danzig, now Gdansk, in then Nazi-occupied Poland.

Germany has been hunting down former Nazi staff since the 2011 conviction of former guard John Demjanjuk on the basis he served as part of the Nazi killing machine set a legal precedent.

Since then, courts have handed down several guilty verdicts on those grounds rather than for murders or atrocities directly linked to the individual accused.

Among those who were brought to late justice were Oskar Gröning, an accountant at Auschwitz, and Reinhold Hanning, a former SS guard at the same camp.

Both were convicted of complicity in mass murder at the age of 94 but died before they could be imprisoned.

In the most recent verdict, a former SS guard, Bruno Dey, was found guilty at the age of 93 and was given a two-year suspended sentence.

A case was brought against another former guard at Stutthof in July over complicity in the murder of several hundred people.

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CRIME

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.

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