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German court says trial of former Nazi camp guard unlikely to be restarted

Case against 95-year-old Johann Rehbogen, a former SS guard at the Stutthof concentration camp, was brought to a halt in December due to his ill health

In this photo from November 6, 2018, a justice officer pushes Johann Rehbogen (R), a former Nazi SS guard, in a wheelchair to the courtroom for his trial at the regional court in Muenster, Germany. His face has been blurred on court order (Guido Kirchner/dpa/AFP)
In this photo from November 6, 2018, a justice officer pushes Johann Rehbogen (R), a former Nazi SS guard, in a wheelchair to the courtroom for his trial at the regional court in Muenster, Germany. His face has been blurred on court order (Guido Kirchner/dpa/AFP)

BERLIN — A German court said on Monday it was unlikely that the trial of a former Nazi concentration camp guard will resume after a doctor found him still unfit to appear in court.

The trial of Johann Rehbogen, 95, was frozen in December over concerns about the elderly defendant’s health.

Rehbogen stands accused of complicity in mass murder at the Stutthof camp near what is now Gdansk, in Poland, including more than 100 Polish prisoners gassed in June 1944 and “probably several hundred” Jews killed from August to December 1944.

The Muenster state court said Monday that judges still need to make a final decision and the prosecution can appeal, but it appears unlikely that Rehbogen’s trial can be restarted.

The trial began on November 6 but it was halted in December after Rehbogen, a former SS guard at Stutthof, was hospitalized due to heart and kidney issues that forced the cancellation of several hearings. Rehbogen was 18 years old when he began his stint as a Stutthof guard in June 1942. He served there until September 1944.

The court ended the trial under German legal regulations which forbid lengthy gaps between hearings, but said it could be held again from the start if Rehbogen’s health improved.

If he were found guilty, Rehbogen could face a 15-year prison sentence but due to his age and the possibility of an appeal, it is unlikely he would serve any time behind bars.

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