German prosecutors drop case against former Auschwitz medic, 96

Prosecutors say elderly Auschwitz medic unfit to stand trial for accessory to more than 3,600 murders.

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Germany's Bundestag
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German prosecutors have submitted a motion to a German state court to drop the case against former Auschwitz medic Hubert Zafke.

Zafke, 96, in March 2016, was found unfit to stand trial for his role in the murder of more than 3,600 people at the Nazi death camp.

His trial had failed to begin as planned in February 2016 after a doctor ruled he was unfit to be transported to Neubrandenburg state court.

Subsequent medical examinations in March and July of this year found that Zafke was “unfit to stand trial,” the regional prosecutor’s office said in a statement, the AFP news agency reported Thursday.

Zafke, who is wheelchair bound, was diagnosed with dementia in October of 2015, which lead to doubts about his ability to stand trial.

“Now the dementia has reached a severity that the defendant is no longer able inside and outside the courtroom to reasonably assess his interests or coherently follow or give testimony,” the prosecutors’ statement said.

The prosecutors said they were required by law after such a medical evaluation to submit a motion to dismiss the case, according to AFP.

Zafke is charged with being an accomplice to the murders of 3,681 people at the death camp. Prosecutors say the medic’s unit in which he served placed the Zyklon-B pesticide crystals into the gas chambers at Auschwitz, where up to 6,000 Jews were killed per day, and was “supportive of the running of this extermination camp,” according to Deutsche Welle.

Zafke does not deny he served at Auschwitz, but he has said he did not see or participate in any of the murders. His attorney says he knew people were being murdered at Auschwitz but never took part in the killings.

Reportedly he was on duty when teenage diarist Anne Frank arrived at the death camp on Sept. 5, 1944. She was transferred later to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she died of typhoid.