Nazi hit man, 88, hears murder charges against him

3rd November 2009, Comments 0 comments

In one of Germany's last major war crimes trials, Heinrich Boere was charged with gunning down three men in separate incidents as part of an SS operation codenamed "Silver Pine" that hunted and executed Dutch resistance members.

Aachen -- An 88-year-old self-confessed member of a Nazi hit squad listened impassively on Monday as he was accused of the cold-blooded murder of three Dutch resistance fighters in 1944.

In one of Germany's last major war crimes trials, Heinrich Boere was charged with gunning down three men in separate incidents as part of an SS operation codenamed "Silver Pine" that hunted and executed Dutch resistance members.

The court heard chilling evidence from some of the men's descendants. Dolf Bicknese, son of Fritz Bicknese, a chemist shot by Boere and another SS officer, was eight years old at the time.

Dolf "ran into the shop when he heard the shots and saw his father lying on the ground, an image that has burned itself deep into his mind," said a lawyer for Bicknese's two sons, co-plaintiffs in the trial.

Boere has already confessed several times to the slayings in the Dutch towns of Breda, Voorschoten and Wassenaar, saying he was following orders.

"Yes, I got rid of them," he told Focus magazine last year. "It was not difficult. You just had to bend a finger."

Throughout the hearing, he sat motionless in his wheelchair, dressed casually in a white shirt.

Dutch-born Boere was sentenced to death in absentia by a special post-war tribunal in Amsterdam in 1949 but fled in 1954 to Germany where he lived a quiet, unassuming life.

He 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.

The Bicknese brothers said they refused to come to Germany to testify "out of bitterness" at the country's failure to bring Boere to justice.

Defence lawyer Matthias Rahmelow called for the trial to be halted, saying that Boere's conviction in Amsterdam meant his client had already been tried for the crime.

It is not possible to be tried for the same crime twice in two countries of the European Schengen area, Rahmelow argued.

Boere, one of the top 10 most-wanted Nazis according to the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, faces life behind bars if convicted. He currently lives in a retirement home outside Aachen in western Germany.

AFP/Expatica

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