Wiesenthal Centre critical on war crimes trials

4th September 2007, Comments 0 comments

04 September 2007, Berlin (dpa) - The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which hunts down Nazi war criminals, criticized Germany on Monday for not mounting enough war crimes trials.

04 September 2007

Berlin (dpa) - The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which hunts down Nazi war criminals, criticized Germany on Monday for not mounting enough war crimes trials.

In its annual report, it said not a single person was indicted or convicted in the period between April 1, 2006 and March 31, 2007 in Germany for Nazi-era actions although a large number of suspects remained alive.

The centre rated Germany's response as "poor" for the first time since annual reports by the centre had begun to be published in 2001.

Efraim Zuroff of the Centre's Jerusalem office, the author of the report, said it was still feasible to prosecute ex-Nazis for war crimes committed more than 62 years ago despite their advanced age.

The report said the number of those convicted of Nazi war crimes during the 12 months had risen to 21 from 16 one year earlier.

The annual report praised the US Office of Special Investigations for its success in unmasking and deporting war crimes suspects, with Italy as the next best performer, managing for a second time to convict 10 people within one year.

Zuroff said war crimes trials remained fully feasible, with 69 verdicts since January 2001 and at least 44 indictments recorded. He said the obstacle was not the age of the defendants but a lack of political willpower.

He said Sweden and Norway were no longer mounting inquiries at all because prosecutions were legally out of time under their law, while nations such as Syria had no provision to catch suspects at all.

The centre says one of those it would like to still see brought to justice is Alois Brunner, who is believed to live in Syria and was an aide to Adolf Eichmann, the organizer of the "Final Solution."

The centre, founded in 1977 and named after the late "Nazi hunter" Simon Wiesenthal, is based in Los Angeles.

Zuroff said he found Germany's record in the 2006-2007 period all the more disappointing as there was no significant political group that opposed the prosecution of war criminals.

The report was even more critical of nations such as Austria, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Canada, which it charged had opened dozens of inquiries but brought none at all to trial.

www.wiesenthal.com

dpa

Subject: German news

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