A 96-year-old German woman was caught on Thursday, hours after failing to turn up for her trial on charges of aiding and abetting mass murder in a Nazi concentration camp during World War Two, a court spokesperson said, according to Reuters.
Irmgard Furchner is accused of having contributed as an 18-year-old to the murder of 11,412 people when she was a typist at the Stutthof concentration camp between 1943 and 1945, but her trial in the far northern town of Itzehoe could not begin in her absence.
"The defendant left her home in the early hours of this morning and took a taxi to an unknown location," court spokesperson Frederike Milhoffer said, according to Reuters.
The spokesperson said an arrest warrant had been issued. Milhoffer later confirmed that Furchner had been detained and that a doctor was now assessing whether her health would allow her to be imprisoned.
It was not specified where Furchner had fled to. Milhoffer said her next hearing was scheduled for October 19.
Charges cannot be read until Furchner, who faces trial in an adolescent court because of her young age at the time of the alleged crimes, is present in court in person.
Furchner’s case is the latest that Germany has opened against suspected Nazi war criminals in recent years.
Germany’s 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. He died in 2012.
Last year, 93-year-old Stutthof camp guard Bruno Dey was convicted of 5,232 counts of accessory to murder in Hamburg state court, equal to the number of people believed to have been killed at Stutthof during his service there in 1944 and 1945.
Earlier this year, German prosecutors charged a 100-year-old man who allegedly served as a Nazi concentration camp guard where more than 100,000 people were killed during World War II.
Days earlier, Germany charged a former secretary from the Stutthof Nazi concentration camp with complicity in the murders of 10,000 people.
Some of those convicted of Nazi-era war crimes never served their sentences as they passed away before being jailed.
One such convict, Reinhold Hanning, was found guilty of complicity in the mass murders at Auschwitz. However, Hanning died at the age of 95 in June of 2017, before he could serve his jail term.
In a similar case, Oskar Groening, known as the “Bookkeeper of Auschwitz”, died in March of 2018 before he could begin serving a four-year prison sentence after being convicted for the crime of accessory to the murder of 300,000 Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz.
Last April, a German court dropped a case against 95-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard, Johann Rehbogen, finding him unfit for trial due to illness.