Prosecutor Christoph Goeke of the German city of Dortmund announced Wednesday that former Nazi guard Samuel Kunz has been charged in relation to the murder of nearly half a million people during the Nazi regime. Kunz, who has admitted to working at the Belzec concentration camp [HRP backgrounder] from 1942-1943, is accused of helping to murder 430,000 Jewish people [Al Jazeera report] during his time at Belzec, and of shooting 10 other people in separate incidents. Kunz maintains that he never personally murdered anyone [JTA report]. Kunz has been called as a witness in the case of fellow accused Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk [NNDB profile, JURIST news archive]. In May, a German court denied a motion to dismiss charges against Demjanjuk [JURIST report]. The trial began in November [JURIST report], marking the first time a Nazi war crimes trial will focus on a low-ranking foreigner rather than a commander. The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk faces 27,900 accessory accounts stemming from his alleged involvement as a guard at Sobibor concentration camp [Death Camps backgrounder].
In March, a German court sentenced former Nazi SS member Heinrich Boere to life in prison for the 1944 murders [JURIST report] of three Dutch civilians. Boere was sentenced to death in absentia by a Dutch court in 1949, but the sentence was later commuted to life in prison. Boere never served his sentence, as one German court refused to extradite him because of the probability that he was a German national, and another refused the request that he serve his sentence in a German jail due to the likelihood the trial was unfair because Boere was not present for the proceedings. Boere plans to appeal the court's decision and will not begin serving his sentence until the appellate process is finished. In August, a German district court sentenced former Nazi army officer Josef Scheungraber to life in prison [JURIST report] for the 1944 reprisal killing of 10 Italian civilians. Scheungraber was convicted on 10 counts of murder and one count of attempted murder for ordering soldiers to blow up a barn in Falzano di Cortona, Tuscany, after forcing 11 civilians inside.