Alleged Nazi Assassin Escapes German Trial Based on Frailty | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 08.01.2009
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Alleged Nazi Assassin Escapes German Trial Based on Frailty

A man alleged to have killed three members of the Dutch resistance as an SS assassin during the Second World War escaped trial in Germany Wednesday, with judges in Aachen ruling he was too frail to be tried at age 87.

Nazi party leader Adolf Hitler stands in an open cabriolet as he acknowledges an military parade

The alleged SS assassin was sentenced to life in the Netherlands in 1949

A Dutch court sentenced him in absentia to death on the same charges in 1949. When he was later tracked down in a German coalmining town near the Dutch border, the Netherlands launched what would become nearly three decades of efforts to bring him to justice.

A 2003 application to make him serve a life sentence in Germany based on the 1949 Dutch conviction was rejected in 2007 by German judges who said the former miner may not have had a fair trial in absentia.

German war crimes prosecutors then assembled their own case against him, alleging that he was recruited by "Feldmeijer," a brutal SS squad that murdered opponents of the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

He allegedly murdered three people in 1944 in the towns of Breda, Voorschoten and Wassenaar near The Hague.

Never extradited from Germany

The court in Aachen ruled Wednesday, Jan. 8, that the likelihood of the man being convicted was high, but that he was now too frail to be put on trial. It quoted a doctor's report saying the man was no longer capable of alertly participating in his own trial.

The former alleged assassin was born in Eschweiler, a suburb of Aachen, where he still lives. Judges said evidence of his guilt pertained to his capture by Dutch authorities in 1945 at the end of World War II. But he managed to escape two years later.

His 1949 Dutch sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment, but a Cologne court refused to extradite him in 1980 on the grounds that German citizens could not be extradited. Claims that he is a Dutch citizen remain unproven.

Later efforts by the Dutch Ministry of Justice to hold the man accountable under European Union laws came to nothing.

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