Auschwitz Medic Unfit to Stand Trial in Germany

SS medic Hubert Zafke, 96, will not stand trial for accessory to murder as Germany’s Neubrandenburg state court announced his dementia made him unfit for trial.

Doubts arose as to whether Zafke would be fit to stand trial after he was diagnosed in October 2015 with dementia. He is now wheelchair-bound.

His trial was initially meant to begin in February 2016, however medical problems meant it was postponed until September that same year.  Doubts about biased judges meant the trial was again postponed in October, and in June 2017, three judges were removed due to bias.

Hubert Zafke was to be charged with 3,681 counts of accessory to murder, after prosecutors argued the unit in which he served put Zyklon-B pesticide crystals into Auschwitz’s gas chambers. Up to 6,000 Jews were killed per day at Auschwitz.

Zafke’s lawyer stated that he did not participate in, or see, any of the murders, though he knew they were occurring.

JURIST states that there has been a recent increase of war crime charges against former Nazi party members in German courts. In 2014, Oskar Groening was charged as an accessory to the deaths of 300,000 people and, in 2015, was given a four-year gaol term for his crimes. In 2016, a 92-year-old woman was charged with Nazi crimes though, alike Hubert Zafke, was deemed unfit to stand trial.

Phoebe Egoroff

Founder and of Jurist International, a website focusing on the latest developments in international human rights and criminal law.

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