Former Nazi Storm Trooper Goes on Trial

BERLIN - A 92-year-old former member of the Waffen SS goes on trial later Monday in Hagen, Germany for the 1944 murder of a member of the Dutch resistance.

Dutch-born Siert Bruins was convicted in absentia by a Dutch court in 1949 of the killing at Appingedam, but never punished for it because he claimed German nationality and could not be extradited.

As the ranks of former Nazi soldiers thin out, trials for wartime atrocities are getting rare. Some think Bruins' trial may be the last. Last year Ukraine-born John Demjanjuk died at 91, just 10 months after conviction as an accessory to 28,000 Holocaust murders.

Bruins allegedly volunteered to serve in the Waffen SS, the military arm of the Nazi Party, then transferred to the German border police and was one of two men who shot dead a member of the Dutch resistance, Aldert Klaas Dijkema, on September 22, 1944.

After the discovery that he had changed his name and was in business in Germany as a fencing contractor, a German court sentenced him in 1980 to seven years' prison as accessory to two other killings, of two Jewish brothers.

German prosecutors explain the late decision to try him for the Appingedam attack as the result of a legal re-analysis of the case which cleared away the key obstacle, the statute of limitations.

Prosecutors say the two assailants shot the victim in the back without warning, then claimed he had been fleeing after being told to stop. A Dutch court sentenced Bruins to death, later commuted to life. The other alleged killer is now deceased.

The state court in Hagen is to try the case slowly, with short hearings of a three hours daily because of Bruins' advanced age and ill health. Some 11 hearing days up to September 26 have been scheduled.

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Germany World War II
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