One of Germany’s last war crimes trials has ended. Dutch-born 92-year-old Siert Bruins a security and border guard during World War Two was accused of killing a Dutch resistance fighter.
The judge ordered the case to be dropped because too much evidence had been lost in the seven decades since the event.
Prosecutors, who had been calling for a life sentence, had argued at the trial, which started in September, that Bruins killed a Dutch citizen, Aldert Klaas Dijkema, who was suspected of working for the resistance against German occupation of the Netherlands in September 1944.
They said Dutch-born Bruins and another man, who has since died, shot Dijkema four times, once in the back of the head, possibly while he was fleeing. Prosecutors had called for a life sentence.
White-haired Bruins, who showed little emotion, left the court with the help of a walking frame.
Detlef Hartmann, lawyer for the victim’s sister, told reporters he was shocked at the court’s decision.
“My client has waited 70 years for the murder of her brother to be atoned for,” he told reporters.
“This ruling is a slap in the face of the German justice system because it took 70 years to get this far and now we are at a point where the proof is insufficient and the case has to be stopped.”
Although an international military tribunal put some of the most infamous Nazi leaders on trial soon after World War Two at the Nuremberg Trials, Germany itself has a patchy record on bringing its war criminals to justice.