A 101-year old former Nazi concentration guard, the oldest person charged in Germany with war crimes committed during the Holocaust, was sentenced to five years in prison by a court on Tuesday.
Josef Schütz, who had pleaded not guilty, was given a jail term for being an accessory to murder while he was a prison guard at Sachsenhausen death camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, during the years 1942 to 1945, AFP reported.
Schütz, who lives in Brandenburg, had claimed he did "absolutely nothing" and was unaware of the evil crimes going on at Sachsenhausen.
Prosecutors had asked that Schütz be given a five-year prison sentence, The Guardian reported.
In August 2021, Schütz was charged by a Neuruppin district court with accessory to murder in 3,518 cases stemming from his time as a camp guard at Sachsenhausen. Prosecutors said in May that the centenarian “knowingly and willingly” partook in the killings at the camp.
As his trial came to an end on Monday, Schütz exclaimed: "I don't know why I am here.”
During the trial, Schütz’s testimony included inconsistencies about his life, which the 101-year old blamed on being “mixed up.”
But prosecutors were able to prove that he was a willing participant in the killings of 3,518 prisoners at the camp, including the murder of prisoners "using the poisonous gas Zyklon B.”
Over 200,000 people, including Jews and Roma, were prisoners at Sachsenhausen between 1936 and 1945. According to the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum, tens of thousands died there as a result of forced labor, murder, medical experiments and starvation.
The trial began in 2021 but was delayed several times due to Schütz’s health. Given his advanced age, there is little change he will spend any time behind bars.
Schütz’s lawyer Stefan Waterkamp told AFP that his client would likely appeal the verdict.