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Trial of Auschwitz medic postponed

[JURIST] A German court says the trial of a former medic who served at the Auschwitz death camp [Guardian profile] must be postponed due to complaints. The Neubrandenburg state court has received [AP report] numerous complaints that the judge and others in the court are biased, and the trial has been held up as prosecutors have been attempting to remove several of the judges. The medic, Hubert Zafke, faces charges [AFP report] on more than 3,681 counts of being an accessory to murder. The trial of the 95-year-old Zafke [JURIST report] got underway several weeks ago but was stalled [BBC report] numerous times after judges ruled he was unfit to stand trial over concerns about his mental and physical health. In response, the prosecution team and lawyers representing the victims' families have accused the judges of bias, causing a delay between sessions as the judges respond. Due to this delay, the court now says that the trial must be restarted.

German courts have recently seen an increase of war crime charges against former members of the Nazi party. Prior to 2011, German prosecutors often chose not to charge individuals they regarded as "cogs" in, rather than active members of, the Nazi war machine. The 2011 conviction [JURIST report] of former Nazi guard John Demjanjuk may have emboldened German prosecutors to pursue cases against all those who materially helped Nazi Germany function. A court in Kiel, Germany, ruled last month that a 92-year-old woman charged with Nazi crimes is unfit to stand trial [JURIST report]. In December a German court allowed [JURIST report] the trial of a 95-year-old Auschwitz paramedic accused of being an accessory to the murder of 3,681 people at Auschwitz. In September 2014 German authorities imprisoned Oskar Groening, known as the "accountant of Auschwitz," who was charged [JURIST report] as an accessory to the murder of 300,000 people. Last year Groening was given a four-year jail sentence for his role at Auschwitz, a sentence he said he would appeal [JURIST reports].

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