A German court convicted a 93-year old German man of helping to murder 5,232 prisoners, many Jewish, at a Nazi concentration camp in World War Two and handed him a suspended two-year sentence in one of the last cases against Nazi-era crimes.
Bruno D., who had been an SS guard in the Stutthof concentration camp near Gdansk in what is today Poland, was guilty of being involved in killings between August 1944 and April 1945, the Hamburg court said on Thursday.
He had acknowledged his presence at the camp but argued that did not amount to guilt.
About 65,000 people, including many Jews, were murdered or died at Stutthof, according to the museum’s website. Prosecutors have argued that many were shot in the back of the head or gassed with the lethal Zyklon B gas.
As he was only 17 or 18 years old at the time of the crimes, he was subject to youth sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors had called for a three-year prison sentence.
In his final testimony to the court earlier this week, Bruno D. apologised for the suffering victims went through but stopped short of taking responsibility, German media reported.
“I would like to apologise to all the people who have gone through this hell of insanity and to their relatives and survivors,” he told the court this week, broadcaster NDR and many other media outlets reported.
The defendant’s frail health has meant that court sessions were limited to two to three hours per day.
Although the number of suspects is dwindling due to old age, prosecutors are still trying to bring individuals to justice. A landmark conviction in 2011 opened the way to more prosecutions as it was the first time that working in a camp was sufficient grounds for culpability, with no proof of a specific crime.