Dutchman's war crimes trial abandoned

2nd February 2004, Comments 0 comments

2 February 2004 , AMSTERDAM — A court in Germany abandoned the trial on Monday of an aging Dutch war criminal, Herbertus Bikker, 89, ruling that he is not fit enough to participate in the court proceedings.

2 February 2004

AMSTERDAM — A court in Germany abandoned the trial on Monday of an aging Dutch war criminal, Herbertus Bikker, 89, ruling that he is not fit enough to participate in the court proceedings.

"He must be able to actively co-operate with his defence and he can't (do that) anymore," news agency ANP quoted the judge in Hagen Court as saying.

The public prosecution said it was disappointing that the trial was abandoned so close to a ruling, but did not consider it as a defeat. Instead, he said the ruling was frustrating.

Bikker was a member of the Nazi SS and worked as a guard at the Erica prison camp in Ommen in the Netherlands during World War II. He was accused of the shooting death of a resistance volunteer, Jan Houtman, in November 1944.

Bikker — who had been continually ill throughout the on-again and off-again trial —claimed that he acted in self-defence.

He was convicted of war crimes in the Netherlands in 1949 and sentenced to death, a punishment that was later commuted to life. Bikker escaped from jail with six others in 1952 and fled to Germany.

Because of his Nazi membership, Bikker was able to take out German citizenship. Due also to the fact that Germany does not extradite its citizens, Bikker lived in relative freedom in the past 50 years.

He was eventually tracked down by journalists in 1996, who allegedly obtained a confession, forcing the German judiciary to re-open the case, an NOS news report said.

His lawyers requested the court on 19 January to abandon the case, a ruling that was handed down on Monday

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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