German court drops case on former medic at Auschwitz

Source:AFP Published: 2017/9/12 23:33:40

A German court on Tuesday said it had dropped a case against a 96-year-old former medical orderly at the Auschwitz death camp because he suffers from dementia, ending one of the last high-profile Nazi prosecutions.

Wheelchair-bound Hubert Zafke had faced 3,681 counts of being an accessory to murder at the concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

The decision to end the proceedings was widely expected after prosecutors last month said the accused was unfit for trial and the case should be dismissed. Concerns over Zafke's mental and physical health had led to repeated postponements of his trial, which began in February 2016 in the northeastern  town of Neubrandenburg.

"Because of his dementia he is no longer capable of following a trial," court spokesperson Carl Christian Deutsch said in a statement.

Two independent psychiatrists had confirmed the diagnosis, finding that Zafke was incapable of following a discussion or retaining information for more than a few minutes.

The charges against Zafke focused on a one-month period in 1944 when 14 trains carrying prisoners - including the  teenage diarist Anne Frank - arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Frank, who arrived in Auschwitz with her parents and sister, was later transferred to another camp, Bergen-Belsen, where she died in March 1945.

After World War II, a Polish court in 1948 sentenced Zafke to a four-year jail term from which he was released in 1951.

But during his first questioning by German prosecutors in 2014, he denied ever having worked at Auschwitz.

Posted in: EUROPE

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