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Court may charge 93-year-old over time at Auschwitz

A 93-year-old man in northwestern Germany has been charged as an accessory to 170,000 counts of murder - dating back to his time at the Auschwitz concentration camp. The defendant claims he had no role in the killings.

Prosecutors in the North Rhine-Westphalian town of Detmold, near Dortmund, released more details on Monday concerning the accused. According to the prosecutors' material filed to the court, the accused had served at the Auscwhitz death camp from January 1942 to June 1944 as a guard.

Last week, the 93-year-old was accused of 170,000 counts of accessory to murder, dating back to his time at the Nazi camp in occupied Poland.

The defendant, whose identity has not been disclosed in the German press owing to the country's privacy code, acknowledges his presence at the concentration camp during the Second World War. Defense lawyer Johannes Salmen said that his client disputes having had any role in the killing of prisoners.

However, the prosecution asserts that he was responsible for guarding prisoners and selecting individuals for the gas chambers, claiming that he was fully aware of Auschwitz's procedures when it came to murdering inmates.

The 93-year-old and his legal team have up to six weeks since the charges were first formally filed, on February 10, to respond. After this, the local courts will decide whether or not to take the case to trial.

das/msh (dpa, AP)