Longest War Crimes Trial Ended Because of Illness

The longest war crimes proceeding ever held in West Germany ended abruptly last week when a Frankfurt court ruled that the accused was too ill to continue. The defendant, Walter Fasold, a 77 year-old former SS officer, was charged with complicity in the mass shootings of at least 180 Jewish concentration camp inmates during World War II.

Fasold was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1949. After serving 22 years, he obtained a review of his case. The second trial, begun in 1971, ended inconclusively in 1974. A third trial, opened in 1976, continued until last month, during which time more than 200 witnesses testified.

But after Fasold suffered his third heart attack in two years, Judge Theodor Haller ruled that the accused was in serious danger of his life and could no longer appear in court.

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