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Nazi crimes suspect 'unfit for trial'

September 9, 2016

A German court has said it will shelve a case against a 92-year-old woman on accessory to murder charges. The woman, who was a radio operator at Auschwitz, would have been among the last to be tried for Nazi crimes.

Image: picture-alliance/dpa/F. Leonhardt

The state court in the northern German city of Kiel said in a statement on Friday that Helma M. was almost fully blind and deaf and had also been weakened by a "severe internal illness" earlier this year, rendering her unfit to stand trial.

The 92-year-old's last name was not released, in accordance with German privacy law.

Helma M. had been charged with 260,000 counts of accessory to murder associated with her activities as the radio operator of the commandant at the Auschwitz Nazi death camp.

Last Nazi trials

Germany is holding what are likely to be its last trials linked to Nazi-era crimes, with the alleged perpetrators now either deceased or extremely aged.

Deutschland Detmold Prozess gegen Reinhold Hanning früherer Auschwitz-Wachmann
Image: picture alliance/AP Photo/B. Thissen

A former Auschwitz guard, Reinhold Hanning, 94, was convicted earlier this year and sentenced to five years in prison on charges of being an accessory to the murder of at least 170,000 people.

The trial of another Nazi crimes suspect, Hubert Z., 95, a former paramedic at the camp, has been stalled owing to concerns about the defendant's health, with a pretrial hearing scheduled for Monday at a court in the northeastern city of Neubrandenburg.

Clock ticking

Underlining the fact that time is running out to bring suspects before the courts, another former Auschwitz guard, Ernst T., died in April just days before his trial was scheduled to begin. He had been accused of being an accessory to the murder of more than 1,000 people.

During the Holocaust, the Nazis killed more than 6 million people, most of them Jews, in a deliberate plan of extermination that reached a terrible peak between 1941 and 1945.

At least 1.1 million prisoners, 90 percent of them Jewish, died in the concentration camp of Auschwitz, a network of complexes situated in areas of Poland that were occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II.

tj/sms (AP, Reuters)