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West German Judges, Prosecutors Fined for Abusing Trial Privileges

Three judges and two state prosecutors have given Nazi war crimes trials a bad name.

At the very least, they provided fresh ammunition to critics who say they are a waste of taxpayers’ money.

The five jurists were fined between $2,000 and $6,000 each by a Dortmund court last week for abusing the expense privileges allowed them for travel abroad to hear testimony from witnesses unable to come to Germany.

They were attached to a court in Bochum from 1979-1985, hearing the case of a former SS officer, Helemut Krizons, who was on trial for killing Jews in the Lodz ghetto.

The court undertook no fewer than 20 trips to hear witnesses in Israel, Poland, the United States and Australia.

But some of their stopovers turned out to have little to do with the court’s business.

The judges and lawyers, for example, spent working days in Las Vegas, Mexico City, Hong Kong and at various international resorts.

They booked flights on cheap holiday tours but accepted compensation for regular business travel.

Legal sources fear these flagrant abuses will make it more difficult for the courts to take testimony abroad, which is often vital to the outcome of a case.

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