Former Nazi camp guard, 100, ‘fit to stand trial’ in Germany

A 100-year-old former concentration camp guard will stand trial in Germany in October accused of complicity in 3,518 murders, public prosecutors announced on Monday.

Former Nazi camp guard, 100, 'fit to stand trial' in Germany
Archive photo shows visitors standing behind the 'work sets you free sign' at the former Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Ralf Hirschberger

The prosecutor’s office in Neuruppin, which first brought the charges in February, received a medical assessment which confirmed the man is “fit to stand trial” despite his advanced age.

Hearings will be limited to two-and-a-half hours per day, according to prosecutors.

The suspect is 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 accused notably of complicity in the “execution by firing squad of Soviet prisoners of war in 1942″ and the murder of prisoners “using the poisonous gas Zyklon B”.

Thomas Walther, a lawyer representing a number of the victims in the case, told the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag: “Several of the co-complainants are
just as old as the accused and expect justice to be done.”

The Nazi SS detained more than 200,000 people at the concentration camp during its lifetime, of which 20,000 are thought to have been killed.

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

READ ALSO: Germany charges 100-year-old former Nazi camp guard

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

In July, German authorities confirmed they were investigating a 95-year-old man for his role as a Nazi guard at a prisoner of war camp where many Soviet
soldiers died during World War II.

At the end of March, prosecutors announced they had dropped a case against a 95-year-old former Nazi death camp guard recently deported by the United States, due to a “lack of sufficient suspicion”.

READ ALSO: Germany’s Nazi hunters in final straight of race against time

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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.