Ex-Nazi Guilty in Wartime Murders

Ex-Nazi Guilty in Wartime Murders
# 23 March 2010 23:51 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. As German authorities pursue suspected Nazi war criminals to the last, a court in Aachen convicted an 88-year-old former SS soldier on Tuesday on charges of killing three Dutch civilians in reprisal for attacks by Dutch resistance fighters in 1944, APA reports quoting “The New York Times” newspaper.
The case against the former soldier, Heinrich Boere, who is now a stateless person, was depicted by German analysts as one of the last major war crimes trials. Court proceedings began last November in another case, against John Demjanjuk, 89, who was accused of helping to force 27,900 Jews to their deaths during the Holocaust.
The verdict in Aachen on Tuesday against Mr. Boere came more than six decades after he was found guilty by a Dutch court in 1949 and sentenced to death. That sentence, passed in his absence, was later commuted to a life imprisonment, but he fled to Germany after the war and did not serve it.
The German court sentenced him to the maximum permissible sentence of life imprisonment on Tuesday, as the prosecution had demanded, rejecting a defense plea for the case to be dropped under European Union regulations covering due process.
Defense lawyers said they would appeal the court findings, a process that could take years.
Court-appointed doctors will also examine Mr. Boere to ascertain whether he is medically fit to serve a prison term. Before his trial he lived in a nursing home.
Mr. Boere was not taken into custody after the sentencing, pending his lawyers’ appeal and the medical tests. The court ruled that he was unlikely to be a flight risk.
Gerd Nohl, the presiding judge, described the killings as “murders that could hardly be outdone in terms of baseness and cowardice — beyond the respectability of any soldier,” The Associated Press reported. Mr. Boere attended the proceedings in a wheelchair and seemed to show no obvious reaction to the sentencing.
The trial began in October. Mr. Boere admitted killing the owner of a bicycle shop, a pharmacist and another civilian when he was part of a Nazi execution team. The prosecution said he had willingly joined so-called Feldmeijer squad in 1940 when German forces overran the Netherlands.
The squad was composed mainly of Dutch volunteers, who carried out reprisal killings against compatriots considered to be anti-German. During the trial, he said he had no choice but to follow orders to carry out the killings.
“I always regarded these assignments as military orders which I had to carry out,” the German DPA news agency quoted Mr. Boere as saying in a statement though his lawyer.
“Today, 65 years after what we did, I obviously see it from a different point of view,” he said. But he did not apologize, DPA reported.
On two occasions German courts refused to extradite him or force him to carry out the Dutch life sentence in Germany. Mr. Nohl, the presiding judge, said Mr. Boere had lived “undisturbed” in Germany since 1955.