Stutthof concentration camp
Stutthof concentration campiStock

A 96-year-old former secretary at a Nazi death camp who tried to flee before her trial has been released from custody in Germany ahead of the next hearing, a court spokeswoman said Tuesday, according to AFP.

Irmgard Furchner was due in court last Thursday for the opening of her trial on charges of complicity in the murder of more than 10,000 people at Stutthof camp, but failed to turn up after leaving her retirement home near Hamburg.

Police detained her several hours later and she was remanded in custody before the resumption of her trial on October 19.

On Tuesday, the court in the northern town of Itzehoe decided she could be freed under unspecified conditions.

"The court has suspended the arrest warrant and released the accused from custody under the condition of precautionary measures," said court spokeswoman Frederike Milhoffer.

The spokeswoman declined to give details on the conditions but said "it is however assured that she will appear at the next appointment".

Furchner is accused of having assisted in the systematic murder of detainees while she was working at Stutthof in the office of camp commander Paul Werner Hoppe between June 1943 and April 1945.

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.