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CRIME

German prosecutors looking to charge ‘Ivan the Terrible’

A German body investigating Nazi war crimes said Monday it had enough evidence for prosecutors to bring charges against an alleged former death camp guard now living in the United States.

German prosecutors looking to charge 'Ivan the Terrible'
Ivan's Nazi ID card for the death camp Photo: DPA

According to a preliminary report, Ukrainian-born Ivan Demjanjuk – nicknamed “Ivan the Terrible” – was a guard at the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland between March and September 1943, said the Central Investigation Centre for Nazi Crimes.

The identity of Demjanjuk, who changed his first name to John after emigrating to the United States in the 1950s, has been “100 percent” established, the body’s head Kurt Schrimm told AFP.

He had been extradited to Israel in 1986 where he was sentenced to death two years later for his participation in the slaying of thousands of Jews in a camp in Treblinka.

But the conviction was overturned for lack of evidence by Israel’s Supreme Court in 1993 and Demjanjuk then returned to the United States where he was stripped of US citizenship for having lied about his wartime activities.

Schrimm said the most recent investigation into Demjanjuk’s time in Sobibor was unrelated to this previous Israeli court judgement. “Unlike in other concentration camps, such as Auschwitz, which were also labour camps, Sobibor was set up solely for the purpose of exterminating people,” Schrimm said. “Guards there may therefore not use the excuse that they did not know what was happening.”

The report has now been passed to prosecutors in the southern German city of Munich, where Demjanjuk had his last known address in Germany, Schrimm said.

CRIME

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.

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