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Tags: Nazi | assassin | death | life

Nazi Assassin, 88, Gets Life Jail Term

Tuesday, 23 March 2010 08:50 AM EDT

AACHEN, Germany — A German court handed a life term on Tuesday to an 88-year-old former Nazi assassin for the wartime murder of three Dutch civilians, more than 60 years after he was sentenced to death.

Heinrich Boere, who escaped a prisoner of war camp in 1947 and moved back to his birthplace in Germany, showed no emotion at the verdict, sitting pensively in a wheelchair in a red and white jumper, grey trousers, socks and sandals.

But his lawyers said they planned to appeal at Germany's highest court, setting the scene for another twist in the decades-long legal saga.

"These were murders that were carried out on a totally random basis," judge Gerd Nohl told a packed courtroom in the western city of Aachen.

Boere was part of a special SS unit in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands who killed Dutch civilians deemed as "anti-German" as reprisals for resistance attacks.

They "wore civilian clothes, rain coats, and carried out the crimes either early in the morning or late in the evening," Nohl said. The risk to Boere when he shot the three men was "zero."

Boere and an accomplice shot Fritz Bicknese in the pharmacy where he worked and bicycle shop owner Teunis de Groot at his home. They killed Frans-Willem Kusters after driving him to woods.

"At last we have got him," de Groot's son, also called Teun, 77, told AFP after the verdict. "Better late than never."

"I wish him a long life after the verdict," he told reporters with a wry smile. Other relatives were also present including Dolf Bicknese, the dead chemist's son, and his grandson Maarten Bicknese.

On several occasions, Boere, now living in a nursing home in Germany, has admitted to the murders.

"Yes, I got rid of them," he told Focus magazine in 2008. "It was not difficult. You just had to bend a finger ... Bang! Dead!"

Boere -- whose father was Dutch, whose mother was German and who grew up in the Netherlands -- had argued he risked being sent to a concentration camp if he refused. But the court rejected this.

A Dutch court sentenced him to death in 1949 in absentia, although the sentence was later commuted to life in prison, and Boere managed to evade all subsequent attempts to bring him to justice.

The Netherlands attempted to have Boere extradited in the 1980s, but failed after a German court ruled in 1984 that there was a possibility he may have German citizenship. Germany as a rule does not extradite its citizens.

His Dutch citizenship was revoked after the war and his application for German nationality -- which he claims he was promised when he joined the Waffen SS in 1940 -- was refused.

"Today it has to be said that the court (in 1984) should have been able to give a clear answer," Nohl said on Tuesday.

A fresh attempt was made to bring him to justice in 2003 when Dutch authorities made a successful application for Boere to serve out his life sentence in Germany, but the ruling was overturned.

German prosecutors then charged him, only for a court to declare him unfit for trial. But this ruling too was overturned by a higher court, allowing a trial to proceed here in Aachen.

Boere's defence had argued that the trial be thrown out on the grounds of double jeopardy because of the 1949 sentence. They are set to make the same argument at the federal appeals court.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

© Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010 08:50 AM
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