Nazi assassin admits killing Dutch civilians in 1944
Heinrich Boere, on trial in the west German city of Aachen since late October, said in a statement that he shot the civilians while part of an SS hit squadBerlin -- An 88-year-old former Nazi SS member admitted in his trial on Tuesday gunning down three Dutch civilians in 1944 but said he was only following orders, a court spokesman said.
Heinrich Boere, on trial in the west German city of Aachen since late October, said in a statement read out by his lawyer that he shot the trio in towns of Breda, Voorschoten und Wassenaar while part of an SS hit squad.
Boere, who has confessed before, said that at the time he did not see the killings as a crime but that now, 65 years later, he saw things differently.
Prosecutors say that the three killings were among 54 murders carried out by the "Silbertanne" ("Silver Pine") hit squad against Dutch civilians thought to be "anti-German" in reprisals for attacks by resistance fighters.
The wheelchair-bound Boere, who lives in a nursing home near Aachen, faces the rest of his life behind bars if convicted of murder.
His trial follows decades of legal wrangling between Germany and the Netherlands.
He was sentenced to death in absentia by a special post-war tribunal in Amsterdam in 1949 but fled to Germany where he lived a quiet, unassuming life. The sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.
Boere remained a free man as Germany refused to extradite him, saying it was unable to determine if he was German or stateless. Germany does not extradite its citizens to stand trial in other countries.
Since the Nuremberg trials just 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, as the suspected war criminals approach their nineties, there has been a flurry of arrests and court cases dealing with war-time atrocities, in what Nazi-hunters say is a welcome change of policy in Berlin.
In the most high profile, 89-year-old John Demjanjuk went on trial in Munich on November 30 on charges of assisting in the murder of 27,900 people while a guard at the Sobibor death camp. He denies the charges.