An alleged war criminal is on trial as a juvenile in Munster, Germany.
Nazi concentration camp guard Johann Rehgoben, who is 94, is being charged as an accessory to murder for serving at Stutthof concentration camp from June 1942 to September 1944.
The former SS trooper is on trial as a juvenile because he wasn’t yet 21 when he was an enlisted sturmmann. That rank, according to Wikipedia, is for SS soldiers who “had served for six months in the organization and had demonstrated basic abilities and competence.”
Prosecutors allege that as a guard, Rehgoben was an accessory to hundreds of the murders that occurred in the northern Poland camp. Prisoners there were killed by in gas chambers, by lethal injection and exposure to freezing temperatures.
Rehbogen doesn’t dispute his service as an SS guard, but denies he was aware of the atrocities being committed within the camp.
If convicted, the World War II veteran, who is in a wheelchair, could be imprisoned for 15 years, but would probably not do time due to his age, according to the BBC.
Prosecutor Andreas Brendel argues that holding Rehgoben accountable for his service to the SS is important for more that one reason.
“Germany owes it to the families and victims to prosecute these Nazi crimes even today,” he said. “That is a legal and moral question."
Simon Wiesenthal Center Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff agrees that Rehgoben’s actions should be considered by a court of law.
"The passage of time in no way diminishes the guilt of Holocaust perpetrators and old age should not afford protection to those who committed such heinous crimes," Zuroff told NBC News.
More than 60,000 Poles, Jews, prisoners of war and political dissidents were killed at Stutthof, which was the first of the Nazi death houses built outside German borders. It was liberated by the Soviet Union on May 9, 1945.