German Official Sees No Need for Extending War Crimes Statute
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German Official Sees No Need for Extending War Crimes Statute

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Erwin Schuele, head of the Nazi Crimes Investigation Center at Ludwigsburg, asserted last night it would not be necessary to extend the statute of limitations for the prosecution of Nazi war criminals.

He argued that legal action was being taken against all known criminals, and would be taken until May 1965, when the present statute will expire. He said that, in cases where full names and dates and addresses were not known, the authorities still could prepare and deliver indictments against such persons both before and after the 1965 expiration date. The demand for extension of the limitations law has been widespread and, reportedly, an extension is being planned by the West German Government. The Ludwigsburg Center coordinates the gathering of information against Nazi criminals for transmission to local prosecutors for trial.

Meanwhile, the West German Government was disclosed today to have sent urgent appeals to a large number of European and other Governments, as well as to institutions and individuals, to provide material which could be useful in indictments of additional Nazi war criminals.

Available information indicates that about 1, 000 more trials of former Nazis will be held, based on indictments against nearly 6, 000 defendants, 2, 000 of whom are still being investigated. Experts believe that it could take six to eight years to complete all pending cases.

The Federal Cabinet still has not reached a decision on extending the statute of limitations on prosecution of war criminals beyond next May 8. Chancellor Ludwig Erhard is on record in favor of extension. Interior Minister Hermann Hoercherl wants to extend the statute to 1970, but Minister of Justice Ewald Bucher and many West German politicians oppose extension.

According to the West German federal law, an extension can be approved only by a two-thirds vote of the Parliament. Considerable discussion has taken place about the proposal and, according to recent polls, West German public opinion is 70 percent against extending the statute.

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