Trial of Nazis May End in Mistrial

The sixth and probably last trial of Nazis accused of war crimes at Auschwitz may end in a mistrial in Frankfurt today because the chief defendant, Horst Czerwinski, 58, suffered a heart attack. Lawyers for his codefendant, Josef Schmidt, 58, have demanded a mistrial on grounds that their client’s case is closely related to that of Czerwinski who is not expected to return to the dock for a considerable time.

Czerwinski, who was a commander of the Lagischa camp in the Auschwitz complex has been charged with the murders of at least eight inmates. Schmidt, a “Blockfuehrer” at the same camp is accused of collaborating in the killings. The proceedings against them have been underway for 3 1/2 years.

Observers here believe the court will have to drop the cases against both men because the prolonged absence of Czerwinski will interrupt the continuity of the legal process required by law. The entire proceedings would have to begin from scratch, but that option is unrealistic because the case depends heavily on witnesses who are not expected to appear a second time.

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