A judge for Germany's Hagen State Court [official website, in German] on Wednesday dropped the case against 92-year-old Siert Bruins [JURIST news archive], a former member of the Nazi Waffen SS. Prosecutors had accused Bruins of executing [NYT report] captured Dutch Nazi-opposition fighter Aldert Klaas Dijkema in September 1944 outside the town of Appingedam. Bruins and an accomplice, who has since died, are accused of taking Dijkema, a prisoner at the time, to an isolated location and then shooting him four times. The suspects reported at the time that Dijkema had been trying to escape when they shot him. Bruins, who was born Dutch but is now a German citizen, was sentenced to prison in the 1980s for the murder of two Dutch Jews during the Second World War. Judge Heike Hartmann-Garschagen concluded [BBC report] that there were to too many gaps in the evidence to properly convict Bruins as no witnesses could be called in the 70-year-old case.The decision comes on the same day an 88 year-old German man was charged [BBC report] with 25 counts murder in connection with the massacre in Oradour-sur-Glane [Guardian backgrounder] in central France, where 642 people were murdered by Nazi SS troops in 1944.
Despite the ages of the accused, authorities have continued to arrest individuals charged with war crimes during the Holocaust.In June 2013 Hungarian prosecutors charged [JURIST report] Laszlo Csatary, a 98-year-old Hungarian man, with the unlawful execution and torture of people in connection with the Holocaust. Csatary died [JURIST report] in August 2013 while awaiting trial. In May 2013 German authorities arrested [JURIST report] a 93-year-old man for allegedly serving as a guard at Auschwitz and assisting in the mass murder carried out at the death camp. German prosecutors have reopened [JURIST report] hundreds of investigations involving former death camp guards after the conviction [JURIST report] of John Demjanjuk [NNDB profile; JURIST news archive] in May 2011 for the murder of thousands during the Holocaust. Demjanjuk was sentenced to five years in prison but was released early due to old age and died in September 2011 while awaiting an appeal [JURIST report].