Admitted Nazi Hit Man Trial to Begin This Month

By: David Rising - AP Writer
By: David Rising - AP Writer

Germany's highest court said Thursday it has declined to hear the appeal of admitted Nazi hit man Heinrich Boere, clearing the way for his trial later this month for the execution-style killings of three Dutch civilians during World War II.

Boere, 88, was initially ruled unfit for trial due to medical problems, but a Cologne appeals court in July overturned the decision, saying the trial could proceed.

Boere's attorneys had appealed that decision to the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlesruhe, arguing that their client suffers a serious heart condition and that to put him on trial would violate his human rights by putting him in a possibly life-threatening situation.

The Constitutional Court, however, said it ruled Tuesday that the claim was unfounded.

The Cologne appeals court, in its evaluation of the possible health risk of the trial on Boere, "recognized the meaning and the scope of the fundamental right to life" in deciding it could proceed, the federal judges said in their written ruling.

Neither of Boere's attorneys were immediately available for comment on the decision.

The Aachen state court has scheduled 13 court sessions for Boere's trial on three counts of murder, to begin Oct. 28 and run through Dec. 18. Each session is to be limited to three hours, in deference to Boere's health.

Boere is accused of the 1944 killings of three men in the Netherlands when he was a member of a Waffen SS death squad that targeted civilians in reprisal killings for resistance attacks.

The son of a Dutch man and German woman, Boere was 18 when he joined the Waffen SS - the fanatical military organization faithful to Adolf Hitler's ideology - at the end of 1940, only months after the Netherlands had fallen to the Nazi blitzkrieg.

Boere was sentenced to death in absentia by a Dutch court in 1949, later commuted to life imprisonment.

The Netherlands has sought Boere's extradition, but a German court refused it in 1983 on the ground that he might have German citizenship. Germany had no provision at the time to extradite its nationals.

An Aachen court ruled in 2007 that Boere could legally serve his Dutch sentence in Germany, but an appeals court in Cologne overturned that ruling, calling the 1949 conviction invalid because Boere was not there to present a defense. He had fled to Germany.

State prosecutors in nearby Dortmund then reopened the case, relying heavily on statements to Dutch police preserved in the court file in which Boere details the killings, almost gunshot by gunshot.

Besides the police statements, Boere also gave an interview to the Netherlands' Algemeen Dagblad newspaper in 2006 in which he recalled slaying bicycle-shop owner Teun de Groot when he answered
the doorbell at his home in the town of Voorschoten.

"When we knew for sure we had the right person, we shot him dead, at the door," he was quoted as saying. "I didn't feel anything, it was work. Orders were orders, otherwise it would have meant my skin. Later it began to bother me. Now I'm sorry."


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