Israel asks Germany to act against fugitive Nazi criminal

Thursday, August 26, 2010

JERUSALEM - Israel has asked Berlin to re-examine the case of a Nazi war criminal who fled from a Dutch jail to Germany in 1952, an Israeli Justice Ministry Spokesman confirmed Thursday.

Born in Holland, the 82-year-old served in the ranks of the SS during World War II and after the war was tried in the Netherlands and sentenced to death for the murder of 11 civilians.

His sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment. In 1952 he escaped from a Dutch jail and fled to Germany, where he currently lives as a free man.

In a press statement Thursday, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre welcomed the move by Israeli Justice Minister Yakov Ne’eman in asking his German counterpart Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger to re-examine the case.

The Centre’s chief Nazi-hunter, Israel director Efraim Zuroff called upon the Bavarian judicial authorities to review the case and refrain from granting the man judicial protection on the grounds that he had not been an officer.

“As clearly demonstrated by the recent conviction in Aachen of Dutch SS-executioner Heinrich Boere and the indictments of Sobibor death camp guard Ivan Demjanjuk in Munich and Belzec death camp guard Samuel Kunz in Dortmund, German prosecutors no longer consider “superior orders” a legitimate defence in Holocaust crimes,” Zuroff said.

It was high time that the 82-year-old was held accountable for his role in the murder of innocent civilians, he said, adding that the man had escaped an extradition to the Netherlands and punishment in Germany due to formal legal reasons.

The man is listed at number five on the Wiesenthal Centre’s list of Nazi war criminals still at large.

In the past, the German government had reviewed his case and found that the killings constituted manslaughter. His crimes therefore fell under the statue of limitations, it was found.

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