Auschwitz guard, 96, fit to serve his prison term, German court rules


(JTA) — A 96-year-old former Auschwitz guard is fit to serve a prison sentence, a German court ruled.

On Wednesday, a regional appeals court in the northern town of Celle ruled that Oskar Groening “is able to serve his term despite his advanced age,” Reuters reported. The court also said Groening’s needs related to his advanced age could be provided in prison.

Groening was convicted and sentenced in July 2015 to four years in jail for his role in the murder of 300,000 Hungarian Jews at the concentration camp in occupied Poland. A federal appeals court rejected his appeal a year ago.

He has remained free while waiting for a determination of his fitness to serve time in prison after requesting that the sentence be suspended.

In August, a doctor examined Groening and found him fit to go to prison with appropriate medical care. The prosecutor’s office rejected a defense request to excuse the jail time.

Groening had admitted to being tasked with gathering the money and valuables found in the baggage of murdered Jews and handing it over to his superiors for transfer to Berlin. He said he had guarded luggage on the Auschwitz arrival and selection ramp two or three times in the summer of 1944.

During the trial, Groening asked for forgiveness while acknowledging that only the courts could decide when it came to criminal guilt.

Groening was held in a British prison until 1948. He eventually found work as a payroll clerk in a factory.

The first investigations of Groening took place in 1977, but it was only after the conviction of Sobibor guard John Demjanjuk in 2011 that the courts were emboldened to try camp guards on charges of complicity in murder.

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