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West German Ruling Parties Agree to Extend Nazi Crimes Statute from 20 to 30 Years

West Germany’s two ruling coalition parties agreed yesterday to extend the statute of limitations on Nazi war crimes prosecution from 20 to 30 years so that the search for and trial of Nazis involved in crimes of murder can continue. The statute of limitations is presently scheduled to go into effect at the end of 1969.

The draft bill, worked out between the Christian Democratic Union, headed by Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger, and the Social Democrats, headed by Foreign Minister Willy Brandt, went to the Bundestag (lower house) today where debate began. Informed sources said they were certain the measure would gain a parliamentary majority.

The draft was regarded as a compromise between Chancellor Kiesinger and Mr. Brandt, who wanted to abolish the statute altogether. The Chancellor favored exemption from prosecution of those who participated in murder under orders from their superiors. A West German Supreme Court ruled last month that persons who committed murder under orders could not be held guilty of murder for base motives. Only in cases where such motives can be proved can convictions be obtained in the future. The two parties also agreed to abolish the 20-year limit on prosecution for crimes of genocide.

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