No live eyewitnesses left for Nazi guard trial

The trial of alleged mass murderer John Demjanjuk, due to start on November 30 in Munich, will take place without any eyewitnesses, it emerged this weekend.

No live eyewitnesses left for Nazi guard trial
Demjanjuk's ID card from 1948. Photo: DPA

Weekly magazine Focus reported that although 23 witnesses had been named, and five from Russia and Ukraine had been expected, they are long-dead.

Demjanjuk is accused of assisting in 27,900 murders during his time as a guard in the Sobibor concentration camp in what was then Poland, during 1943.

His defence lawyer Günther Maull told the magazine witness statements had been produced, but added, “The men were questioned 30 years ago – at least in part in the Soviet Union and possibly under pressure. Whether their statements have any value as evidence is questionable.”

Demjanjuk emigrated to the USA after the end of the war, and fought extradition to Germany. His family argued that his ill health should preclude a trial.

He was sentenced to death by an Israeli court two decades ago after he was convicted of being the feared death camp guard known as “Ivan the Terrible” who would hack at naked prisoners with a sword and inflict cruel and sadistic punishments.

That ruling was overturned in 1993 when statements from other guards identified another man as “Ivan.”

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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.