Thursday, August 13, 2009

Trial of Admitted Nazi Hit Man to Start in October

Heinrich Boere

Aug. 4 2009

BERLIN -- Admitted Nazi hit man Heinrich Boere will go on trial in October for the execution-style killings of three Dutch civilians during World War II, a German court spokesman said Tuesday. 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, spokesman Georg Winkel said.

Boere, who will turn 88 in September, was ruled fit to stand trial last month, despite suffering medical problems. A Cologne appeals court overturned a lower court's decision earlier this year not to put him on trial.

It was not yet clear whether the trial sessions would be limited in length in deference to Boere's age and health issues, Winkel said, though that is usually the case in such situations. He said more trial dates could be added if necessary.

Boere's attorney, Gordon Christiansen, was not available for comment, his office said. Christiansen has said that his client suffers a serious heart condition.

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 refused on grounds 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 defence. He had fled to Germany.

Dortmund prosecutors 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."