One of the most sadistic Nazi doctors during the Third Reich who is suspected of hundreds of murders is still on the run in Spain. But police are possibly closing in on him.
Aribert Heim allegedly killed hundreds at Mauthausen
Police in Spain said Friday they were combing the eastern region of Valencia for Aribert Heim, claimed to be the world's second most wanted Nazi war criminal, amid reports the hunt has been narrowed to a small coastal town.
Heim, 91, is suspected of having tortured and killed hundreds of prisoners at the Mauthausen concentration camp, and has been compared to Josef Mengele, the so-called "angel of death" who was a doctor at Auschwitz.
According to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which tracks suspected Nazi war criminals worldwide, he is "the second most wanted Nazi war criminal after Alois Brunner."
The Center launched an operation in Germany in January aimed at identifying and catching Nazi survivors who would now be well into their 80s or older.
Brunner was a right-hand man to Eichmann, one of the leading architects of the extermination of the Jews and who was hanged in Israel in 1962.
German arrest warrant issued
Spain is tracking down Heim following an arrest warrant issued by German authorities in the southern city of Baden-Baden, and Spanish police said they were "currently looking for this person" in the region around Valencia.
The German-language media portal IbizaHeute reported that the search was focusing on Figueral, a hamlet on the Balearic holiday island of Ibiza, adding that Heim had lived there.
The German news magazine Der Spiegel quoted witnesses as saying Heim twice lived in the village, whose residents are predominantly German, in the 1980s.
A police spokesman refused to say how long the search had been ongoing or exactly where, but said it was being undertaken by "a specialized body of the national police."
Spanish investigative weekly Interviu said members of a unit called Specialiseo are searching for the German who allegedly conducted hundreds of appalling operations on conscious prisoners, has been reportedly sighted over the years in South America, Egypt, Germany and Spain.
Survivors of Mauthausen allege the father of three injected victims in the heart and cut open others, removing their liver, among other things. Der Spiegel recently labelled him "one of the most sadistic Nazi criminals."
Four years ago, according to German media reports, Heim asked for a tax rebate from the German authorities on the basis he was no longer resident in the country.
Heim became a gynaecologist in Baden-Baden after two years of detention by the Allies following the end of World War II in 1945, but went to ground in 1962 as rumours spread of his past.