[JURIST] A German district court in Ellwangen ruled Friday that accused former Auschwitz guard, Hans Lipschis, is unfit to stand trial. The ruling was based on Lipschis’ early stages of incipient dementia, making him unable to comprehend the criminal trial. While Lipschis acknowledges being a member of the SS at Auschwitz, he maintains he only served as a cook and is not guilty of any war crimes. Lipschis was deported from the US in 1983 for lying about his Nazi affiliations when immigrating to the US. Prosecutors charged Lipschis with 10,500 counts of accessory to murder. German courts have been willing to extend the charge to those found to have worked in death camps since the conviction of John Demjanjuk [JURIST report] in 2011. Since then, however, Lipschis’ prosecution that has progressed the furthest [AP report]. The court will need to decide whether the trial itself will still continue, but the determination of being unfit to stand trial makes a conviction unlikely.
Lipschis was arrested [JURIST report] in May. Despite the ages of the accused, 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. Like Lipschis, Demjanjuk was also deported from the US. 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].