Germany drops investigation of former SS officer

June 29, 2016  

German prosecutors on Wednesday said they are dropping their investigation of a former SS officer suspected of war crimes in Italy, The Associated Press reported.

Prosecutors in Stuttgart said a criminal prosecution is no longer possible because the man, 94-year-old Wilhelm Kusterer, is unable to stand trial for health reasons.

Kusterer was sentenced in absentia to lifetime imprisonment by an Italian court in 2008 after a court there found him guilty of participating in the 1944 Marzabotto massacre of some 770 people.

Stuttgart prosecutors spokesman Jan Holzner said Wednesday that the facts of the case would also be insufficient for a conviction in Germany, according to AP.

Holzner explained that unlike the Italian court, the German legal system wouldn’t consider membership of an SS division as proof someone had been involved in a massacre that was carried out by the unit.

German prosecutors have in recent years have attempted to bring surviving Holocaust perpetrators to justice while there is still time.

The crackdown on Nazi war criminals began following the 2011 Munich trial of John Demjanjuk, a Nazi war criminal charged of assisting in the murder of 28,060 people at the Sobibor death camp and sentenced to five years.

But not all of the attempts have been success. Just recently, a former SS guard died a week before he was scheduled to go on trial for his alleged role in the murder of more than 1,000 people at the Auschwitz death camp.

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