An 84-year old German man has been fined 250,000 euros ($297,000 USD) for storing a collection of World War II-era weapons in his basement, including a 45-ton Nazi tank, according to German media reports.
The court in Kiel, Germany convicted the man under the country’s War Weapons Control Act after a search of the octogenarian’s home resulted in the discovery of a large collection of wartime military weapons stored in his underground garage, including the Panther tank, a torpedo, mortars, anti-aircraft guns, machine guns, automatic pistols and 1,500 rounds of ammunition, the Register reported.
The defendant, whose name was kept confidential due to German privacy law, received a 14-month suspended sentence. He must donate or sell the tank and the anti-aircraft guns to a museum or collector within two years, reported the Associated Press.
The tank’s guns do not work. However, it is still operational and could be driven. The mayor of the nearby city of Keikendorf reportedly said, "He was chugging around in that thing during the snow catastrophe in 1978."
The Germany military sent 20 soldiers to the man’s house where they spent nine hours removing the tank and cash of weapons from his underground cellar.
The Panther was loaded onto a trailer using other tanks to pull it.
Fines and jail time under the War Weapons Control Act are dependant on the functionality of the weapons.
The man’s lawyer argued that while his collection contained items classified as military weapons, the prosecution hadn’t proven its case the he had broken the law.
The judge told the court that expert testimony had shown that the Panther’s rusty gun could be cleaned and restored within days, reported Deutsche Welle.
The tank’s engine had been restored but it was missing tracks.
The man’s lawyer emphasized to the court that his client is not a Nazi sympathizer and the restoration of items in his collection had been his “life’s work.”