Charges against suspected Nazi accused of participating in mass murder filed at youth court

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Charges against alleged Nazi filed at youth court

BERLIN — A suspected former Nazi death camp guard has been charged in a German youth court because he was a minor at the time — meaning a 88-year-old suspect could be brought to trial as an adolescent and face a more lenient sentence, a judicial official said Thursday.

Samuel Kunz, the world’s third most wanted Nazi suspect, is charged with participating in the murder of 430,000 Jews at Belzec death camp in occupied Poland. He was 20 years old when he allegedly started working there as a guard in January 1942.

According to German law, people between 18 and 21 can be brought to trial either as minors or adults, court spokesman Matthias Nordmeyer told The Associated Press.

“It will be up to the judge to decide whether he will be sentenced as an adolescent or an adult,” Nordmeyer said.

Charges against Kunz were filed last week at a youth court in the western city of Bonn.

On Thursday, the state court in Bonn released new details of the indictment against Kunz, a retired low-ranking ministry employee who has lived in the village of Wachtberg outside of Bonn for many years.

In addition to being charged with participating in the murder of 430,000 Jews at Belzec, Kunz is also accused of murder over “personal excesses” in which he allegedly shot 10 Jews.

“In July 1943, the defendant is accused of having shot two persons who had escaped from a train going to the death camp and had been captured by guards,” the statement said.

Between May and June 1943, the defendant killed eight persons who had been wounded but not killed by another guard at Belzec.

“The defendant then took the weapon from the other guard to shot the wounded victims to death,” according to the statement.

Kunz, who is the No. 3 on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s list of most-wanted Nazi suspects, had long been ignored by the German justice system, where former officials were not that interested in going after relatively low-ranking camp guards.

But in the past 10 years, a younger generation of German prosecutors has emerged and they want to bring all surviving Nazi suspects to justice.

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