German Nazi suspect charged over 430,000 deaths

Nazi guards at Belzec camp in occupied Poland in 1942. Image: Yad Vashem Photo Archive in Jerusalem
Image caption Guards at Nazi camps have in the past been considered too low ranking for prosecution

A suspected former Nazi death camp guard has been charged with taking part in the killing of 430,000 Jews, German prosecutors have said.

Samuel Kunz, 88, who has been living near Bonn in western Germany, is also charged with murder over the deaths of another 10 Jews in separate incidents.

He is alleged to have been a guard at the Belzec camp in Poland in 1942-43.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Nazi-hunting organisation, puts Mr Kunz as its third-most-wanted Nazi suspect.

The retired civil servant's flat was raided by police in January. At the time, prosecutors said Mr Kunz denied being personally involved in any killings.

Prosecutors say he was informed of his indictment last week.

The BBC's Tristana Moore in Berlin says Mr Kunz has been questioned several times by German investigators but it was only recently that prosecutors stumbled across his name during the trial of another Nazi war crimes suspect, John Demjanjuk.

It is alleged that the two men trained at the same SS camp, at Trawniki in Poland.

Legal interpretation

Mr Kunz has already been called as a witness in the trial of 90-year-old Mr Demjanjuk, who was deported to Munich from the US last May.

Mr Demjanjuk is charged with participating in the murder of 27,900 people at the Sobibor death camp. He denies the charges.

Klaus Hillenbrand, an expert on the Nazi period, said that in the 1960s Mr Kunz gave evidence about the Trawniki camp during a trial, but was never indicted himself.

"During the 1960s, prosecutors were not interested in charging low-ranking guards," he said.

"That changed in the past 10 years when a new generation of prosecutors took over and there is a new way of thinking among them. The law itself was not changed, just the interpretation of the law."

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