April 3, 2019 / 11:37 AM / 4 months ago

German court closes case of former death-camp guard

ATTENTION EDITORS: THE FACE WAS PIXELATED BY SOURCE BECAUSE OF LEGAL REQUIREMENTS - A 94-year-old wheelchair-bound man appeared in court in Muenster, Germany, November 6, 2018, accused of helping to murder hundreds of people at a Nazi concentration camp during World War Two, in what is likely to be one of the last such trials. The man, a former guard in the SS paramilitary wing of Hitler's Nazis who cannot be named for legal reasons, has denied the accusations. Guido Kirchner/Pool via Reuters

MUENSTER, Germany (Reuters) - A court in Germany has closed the trial against a 95-year-old former guard at a Nazi death camp because of the defendant’s health problems, almost certainly ending one of the last such Holocaust prosecutions.

The defendant, a German who cannot be named for legalreasons, is now considered permanently unfit to stand trial, the court in the western city of Muenster said on Wednesday.

A medical report found that physical and cognitive constraints linked to heart and kidney problems meant the man could not follow the proceedings. The decision can be contested, the court added.

However, the development suggests that the trial will be terminated for good. The court had already given prosecutors, joint plaintiffs and the defence a chance to make a statement on the underlying medical examination.

The court had halted the trial in February because of the defendant’s ill health and said it intended to halt it permanently.

The man first appeared in court in November, accused of assisting in the murder of hundreds of people at Stutthof, a Nazi concentration camp during World War Two. A former guard in the SS paramilitary wing of Hitler’s Nazis, he denied the charges.

During the trial, the wheelchair-bound man told the court that he had never been a Nazi and that he was not indifferent to the suffering of inmates.

The man was accused of knowing about killings between 1942 and 1944, when he served at Stutthof, near what is now the Polish city of Gdansk. About 65,000 people, including many Jews, were murdered or died there, according to the Stutthof museum’s website.

“People were killed with a shot in the back of the head. People were left to starve, to freeze”, Chief Prosecutor Andreas Brendel, one of Germany’s most active Nazi hunters, said in court.

Reporting by Elke Ahlswede, editing by Larry King

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