Lawyer: Prosecute aging war criminals

Feb. 13, 2012 at 2:01 PM
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TEL AVIV, Israel, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- A lawyer who represented families of victims of Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk said he wants 28 other alleged low-level war criminals prosecuted.

Cornelius Nestler, also a professor of criminal law and criminal procedure at the University of Cologne in Germany, said of Demjanjuk, an Ohio man convicted in May of having been a Ukrainian guard at the Sobibor, Poland, concentration camp where he abetted the murder of tens of thousands of Jews during World War II: "Yes he is a small fish -- of course, that's right. He was at the lowest level of the hierarchy. But from the perspective of my clients, who lost their families in Sobibor, there's no doubt that everybody, big fish or small, who participated in murder of their families should be brought to justice."

Nestler spoke this week at the Hebrew University's Institute for Advanced Studies in Israel, Haaretz reported.

In a Tel Aviv interview with Haaretz, Nestler said he had a list of 28 German guards who had been stationed at the Flossenburg concentration camp in Bavaria and are now in their 80s.

"Statistically speaking, I would assume that some of them are still alive, and so a prosecutor needs to do his job and find them," Nestler said. "Age doesn't play a role. You cannot run away from your responsibility just because you are getting old."

He said he gave the list to the German chief prosecutor in Munich, who is charged with bringing Nazi war criminals to trial, but the prosecutor "isn't really moving forward in a timely fashion" to track down the war criminals even though they could be found with information "readily available" to police such as phone books and computer data bases.

Nestler blames a lack of resources for the failure to track down the suspected death camp guards.

Given the ages of the alleged war criminals, Nestler said, time for prosecuting them is running short.

"If these kind of cases are not prosecuted in the next two to four years, they will never happen," he said. "The witnesses are still alive, and so you have to do something rather soon."

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