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    22 Sep 2015

    German woman, 91, is charged with 260,000 counts of accessory to murder as prosecutors accuse her of being a Nazi SS radio operator who served in Auschwitz

    A 91-year-old woman has been charged with 260,000 counts of accessory to murder on allegations she was a member of the Nazi SS who served in Auschwitz, German prosecutors claim.
    Schleswig-Holstein prosecutors' spokesman Heinz Doellel said Monday the woman is alleged to have served as a radio operator for the camp commandant from April to July 1944.
    Prosecutors argue that the accused, whose name wasn't disclosed due to German privacy laws, can be charged as an accessory because she helped the death camp function.
    Doellel says there are no indications the woman is unfit for trial, though a court likely won't decide on whether to proceed with the case until next year. 
    In July, 94-year-old former SS sergeant at Auschwitz Oskar Groening was convicted on the same reasoning earlier this year.
    He received a sentence of four years in prison after being found guilty of 300,000 counts as an accessory to murder.
    Oskar Groening testified during his trial at the state court in Lueneburg, in northern Germany, that he guarded prisoners' baggage after they arrived at Auschwitz and collected money stolen from them.
    Presiding Judge Franz Kompisch said Groening had decided to be part of the Nazis' machinery of death.
    The charges against Groening related to a period between May and July 1944 when hundreds of thousands of Jews from Hungary were brought to the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex in Nazi-occupied Poland. Most were immediately gassed to death.
    Groening, 94, awaits his verdict in a courtroom in Luenenburg earlier this year
    Oskar Groening pictured as young member of the Nazi SS
    Pictured left is Groening, 94, awaiting his verdict in a courtroom in Luenenburg earlier this year. Right he is pictured as a young man in his Nazi SS uniform
    Unusually for trials of former Nazi camp guards, Groening was open about his past throughout the proceedings.
    Groening said when his trial opened in April that he bears a share of the moral guilt for atrocities at the camp but that it was up to judges to determine whether he is guilty under criminal law.
    In their verdict, judges went beyond the 3 ½-year sentence prosecutors had sought. Groening's defense team had called for him to be acquitted, arguing that as far as the law is concerned he did not facilitate mass murder.
    Kompisch said Groening deserved respect for having been open about what he did and having testified, but that given the enormity of the crime it would have been inappropriate to impose a lower sentence.

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