A German appeals court ruled Tuesday that a 95-year-old former medic at the Auschwitz concentration camp is fit to stand trial, and faces at least 3,681 counts of accessory to murder, Agence France-Presse reported.
Hubert Z. was an SS sergeant who worked at the camp between Aug. 15, 1944, and Sept. 14, 1945. Prosecutors say he was “aware of the purpose of the [Auschwitz-Birkenau] camp as an extermination camp” while he worked there as a medic. They argue that his actions assisted the death camp in functioning during the time that the Nazis were occupying Poland.
A lower court had declared in June that Z. was unfit to stand trial, and German media reported that he suffered from dementia. The high court of Rostock, however, said Tuesday that psychiatrists determined Z. possesses a limited ability to answer to the court despite having “cognitive impairments and low physical capacity. The court said the limitations can be worked around by regular breaks and medical care during the proceedings.
The ruling comes just months after 94-year-old Oskar Groening stood trial and was sentenced to four years in jail for playing a role in the murder of 300,000 people during his time at the camp. Groening was known as the “bookkeeper of Auschwitz,” sorting bank notes taken from Jews arriving by train, though he didn't play an active role in their deaths. Groening admitted to moral guilt and said he could only ask God to forgive him, since he was not entitled to ask forgiveness of the victims of the Holocaust.
An estimated 1.1 million people, the majority of them European Jews, died in the Auschwitz camp before it was liberated by Soviet forces in 1945. Approximately a dozen investigations are still looking into suspected former SS officers. No trial dates have been set for Z. yet.