A 101-year-old former Nazi guard in Germany was convicted of over 3,500 counts of accessory to murder and sentenced to five years in prison on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.
After the man, who Al Jazeera identified as Josef Schuetz, denied ever working with the Nazis, the court found him guilty of working in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp during World War II for about three years.
The case: The man claimed to have been working at a farm during that time period, but the prosecutors claimed otherwise.
- The prosecutors built their case on documents of an SS guard that had the man’s same name, date and place of birth and other documents, according to The Associated Press.
- They stated that Schuetz “‘knowingly and willingly’ participated in the murders of 3,518 prisoners at the camp,” per Al Jazeera.
Why now? German law allows anyone who aided in running a Nazi camp to be prosecuted, even if decades have passed, according to Axios.
- “We go by the simple principle that murder does not have a statute of limitations,” said Thomas Will, a German government officer in charge of investigating crimes from the Nazi era, per The New York Times. “It is what’s right, and of course it would have been what was right 70 years ago.”
A welcomed verdict: Josef Schuster, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said that the verdict is welcome.
- “The thousands of people who worked in the concentration camps kept the murder machinery running. They were part of the system, therefore they should take responsibility for it,” Schuster told CNN. “It is bitter that the defendant has denied his activities at that time until the end and has shown no remorse.”
The bottom line: Due to the defendant’s age, he will probably not serve the full five-year sentence.
- His lawyer is appealing the convictions, and it will likely take months for the higher court to hear this appeal, the Times reported.