96-Year-Old German Woman Who Fled Nazi War Crimes Trial is Caught
The court said in a statement that the defendant allegedly "aided and abetted those in charge of the camp in the systematic killing of those imprisoned there between June 1943 and April 1945."
A 96-year-old German woman who fled before standing trial on charges of aiding and abetting murder in a Nazi concentration camp has been found by local authorities, CNN reported.
The woman identified as Irmgard Furchner will be brought before the court.
Her trial was supposed to start Thursday but she left her home near Hamburg in a taxi, just a few hours before proceedings were due to start at the state court in Itzehoe and never arrived, according to NPR.
She was later located by German police 35 miles away, according to NBC News. However, the court issued a warrant and delayed the reading of her indictment until the next scheduled hearing on Oct. 19, because she needs to be present, NPR said.
"The woman has been located by German police," Frederike Milhoffer, spokesperson at the court in Itzehoe, told CNN by phone, adding that, "local authorities are now assessing whether she is able to serve a prison sentence."
Furchner "announced that she didn't want to come" to court, Milhoffer said, according to NPR. However, her statement did not provide sufficient grounds for detaining her ahead of the trial and because of her age she had not been expected "actively to evade the trial," Milhoffer added.
The woman is "suspected of having aided and abetted 11,387 cases of murder," according to a court indictment.
The defendant was a stenographer and typist in the commandant's office at the concentration camp in Stutthof, near what is now the Polish city of Gdansk, CNN reported. At Stuuhof about 65,000 people, including many Jews, were murdered or died at the camp, according to the Stutthof museum's website.
The court said in a statement before the trial Furchner allegedly "aided and abetted those in charge of the camp in the systematic killing of those imprisoned there between June 1943 and April 1945 in her function as a stenographer and typist in the camp commandant's office."
Despite pushing a century, she was to be tried as a juvenile because she was 21 when the crimes occurred, NPR reported.
Efraim Zuroff, the head Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center's office in Jerusalem, told The Associated Press that "if she is healthy enough to flee, she is healthy enough to be incarcerated."
Wolf Molkentin, one of her defense attorneys told Der Spiegel magazine that the trial would center on whether his client had knowledge of the atrocities that happened at Stutthof.
"My client worked in the midst of SS men who were experienced in violence — however, does that mean she shared their state of knowledge? That is not necessarily obvious," Molkentin said.
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