Germany believes Nazi hitman, 88, can face justice

9th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

The German government said Monday it believed there may be a way to bring to justice an SS hitman who has lived as a free man in Germany since escaping from a Dutch prison in 1952.

Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger asked her employees upon taking office last year to examine the case of Klaas Carel Faber, 88, convicted after World War II in the Netherlands of murdering 22 Jews.

"The result of the enquiry is that there will perhaps be a possibility to enforce the verdict of the Dutch court," her spokesman told a regular news conference.

The minister has had to send a request to the Bavarian justice ministry, which has responsibility for the case, however, asking it to review the options, the spokesman said. No reply has been received so far.

Public broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk this month cited the state's justice ministry as saying it needed "new facts not known until now" before the Dutch verdict could be enforced.

Last week a petition by 150 Israeli lawyers was presented to the German government calling on Berlin to do more to bring Dutch-born Faber to justice, Israeli media reported.

Faber, who is high on the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of wanted Nazis, was given German citizenship for serving in the SS. Several attempts to extradite him have failed.

He served in a special SS unit in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands which killed Dutch civilians deemed as "anti-German" as reprisals for resistance attacks.

In March this year, another member of this unit who also escaped to Germany, Heinrich Boere, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a German court. His lawyers had said they were planning an appeal and Boere, 88, remains free.

Since the Nuremberg trials after World War II, where several top Nazi henchmen were sentenced to death, German authorities have examined more than 25,000 cases but the vast majority never came to court.

But now, with the suspected war criminals either approaching or already in their 90s, there has been a minor flurry of arrests and court cases.

In the most high-profile case, 90-year-old John Demjanjuk went on trial in Munich last November on charges of assisting in the murder of 27,900 people at the Sobibor death camp.

And late last month, prosecutors said they had charged Samuel Kunz with helping to murder 430,000 Jews while a guard at the Belzec extermination camp. Kunz had been due to appear as a witness in Demjanjuk's trial.

© 2010 AFP

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