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Germany

Nazi War Criminal Heim Dead Since 1992, Report Says

Know as "Doctor Death," Aribert Heim was one of the world's most wanted Nazi criminals. Believed to be in hiding, a German broadcaster reported Wednesday that he died in 1992.

Black-and-white photo of Aribert Heim

Aribert Heim was the world's second most wanted Nazi criminal

German public broadcaster ZDF reported Wednesday, Feb. 4, that Heim, who was wanted for killing hundreds of concentration camp prisoners in horrific experiments, died in Cairo on Aug. 10, 1992, at the age of 78, according to a death certificate seen by ZDF and The New York Times newspaper.

The station, which said it found Heim's passport, application for a residence permit, bank receipts, letters and medical documents, reported that Heim had assumed the pseudonym Tarek Farid Hussein and converted to Islam before dying of cancer.

Heim's son Ruediger Heim, said Heim and Hussein were the same man, according to the ZDF report.

The New York Times also reported Wednesday that Heim's acquaintances in Egypt remembered him as an avid photographer who never allowed others to take pictures of him.

A mosque in Cairo

Heim reportedly converted to Islam and was living in Cairo when he died

Ruediger Heim, now 53, told the Times he found out where his father was hiding from a now-deceased aunt and was with his father in Egypt at the time of his death.

War crimes prosecutors have accused Heim of operating on prisoners without anesthesia; removing organs from healthy inmates and then allowing them to die under observation; and injecting poison, including gasoline, into prisoners' hearts.

Maintained relatively normal life

Heim managed to evade Nazi hunters for over a decade after the end of World War II and even maintained a relatively normal life as a gynecologist in the German town of Baden-Baden, where he had a wife and two sons.

Heim fled after investigators caught his trail in 1962 but his whereabouts had been unknown, until now. Witnesses from around the world, but mainly in South and Latin America, sent in tips claiming to have seen Heim to German and Israeli investigators.

Leading Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff, the Israel director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, had said in July that he believed Heim was alive and hiding in either southern Argentina or Chile.

Arab world offered safe haven

When informed of Heim's apparent death -- his place of burial has yet to be discovered -- Zuroff said public attention on Nazis who fled to South America had overshadowed the many who fled to Arab countries.

"The Arab world was an even better, a safer haven than South America," Zuroff told the Times.

Zuroff, however, would not comment extensively on the issue. But he did admit the German TV report sounded authoritative before adding, "There are various questions that need to be answered."

Heim was the second most wanted Nazi list, after Alois Brunner, Adolf Eichmann's assistant, who is thought to be dead.

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