Thirty cases linked to deaths at the Nazi-era Auschwitz concentration camp should be reopened for possible prosecution, a German national investigative body recommended on Tuesday.
“This shows that, even 68 years after the end of World War II, that no one can wipe the slate clean on the judicial process”, said Baden-Wuerttemberg Justice Minister Rainer Stickelberger, announcing the decision.
The move means the cases will be referred to the relevant states’ justice ministries, he said. The agency that pulled together the cases, the Central Office of the State Justice Administrations for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes, has no prosecutorial authority.
Regional prosecutors will still have to decide themselves if they want to go ahead with the cases, said Kurt Schrimm, director of the central investigative office.
The decision to reopen the cases was made after Ukraine-born John Demjanjuk was found guilty in 2011 being an accessory to the murder of more than 28,000 Jews in the Sobibor death camp.
That conviction showed that it was now sufficient to prove that an accused had simply been among the personnel at death camps or in a mobile killing team to find them guilty of murder.
Investigators said the ruling prompted them to re-examine the evidence against other possible war criminals.