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West German Politicians Debate Statute of Limitations on War Crimes Prosecutions

May 31, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Political circles in West Germany are seriously debating the issue of the statute of limitations which, when it goes into effect at the end of 1969, would bar all future prosecution of Nazi war criminals. The small Free Democratic Party is unanimously opposed to delaying the effective date of the statute but a majority of the Social Democrats and a minority in the Christian Democratic Party want to set the date back. Minister of Justice Gustav Heinemann has argued that the statute should be abolished and the Social Democrats will probably seek a debate on this issue in the Bundestag (lower house) later this year.

Those advocating an extension of the period before the statute goes into effect, or its outright abolition, point out that many Nazi war criminals are still unpunished and even unknown. Each new war crimes trial turns up new evidence implicating war criminals who have hitherto escaped detection, they say.

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