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Germany court determines Auschwitz medic unfit to stand trial

[JURIST] The Neubrandenburg state court announced on Tuesday that it is ending the trial of former SS medic Hubert Zafke after experts determined he is unfit to stand trial because of his dementia. Zafke, 96, was charged [AP report] with 3,621 counts of accessory to murder during his one month at Auschwitz. The trial, which was supposed to start in February 2016, was postponed [JURIST report] until the following September because the defendant had been determined unfit to stand trial due to medical problems. The trial was postponed [JURIST report] again in October because the prosecutors alleged that the judges were biased. Three judges were removed in June due to bias.

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 in September 2016 that a 92-year-old woman charged with Nazi crimes is unfit to stand trial [JURIST report]. In 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. In 2015 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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