Lawyers for a 97-year-old former secretary to the SS commander of Nazi Germany's Stutthof concentration camp on Tuesday asked for their client to be acquitted, arguing that she didn't know about the atrocities committed at the camp, The Associated Press reported.
Irmgard Furchner has been on trial for over a year at the Itzehoe state court in northern Germany. In September 2021, she tried to flee Germany before her trial started. She was being tried 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.
In her closing statement on Tuesday, Furchner said she was sorry for what had happened and regretted that she had been there at the time, according to a court spokesman.
Her lawyers requested her acquittal, arguing that the evidence hadn't shown beyond doubt that Furchner knew about the systematic killings at the camp, meaning there was no proof of intent as required for criminal liability.
Prosecutors accused Furchner of being part of the apparatus that helped the Nazis’ Stutthof camp function during World War II. In their closing arguments last month, they called for her to be convicted as an accessory to murder and given a two-year suspended sentence.
The court said a verdict is expected on December 20.
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.
In 2020, 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.
In 2021, 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.