The trial of 92-year-old Siert Bruins [JURIST news archive], a former member of the Nazi Waffen SS [USHMM backgrounder], began Monday in Germany's Hagen State Court [official website, in German]. Prosecutors accuse Bruins of executing [AP report] captured Dutch Nazi-opposition fighter Aldert Klaas Dijkema in September 1944 outside the town of Appingedam. Bruins and an accomplice, who has since died, are accused of taking Dijkema, a prisoner at the time, to an isolated location and then shooting him four times. The suspects reported at the time that Dijkema had been trying to escape when they shot him. Bruins, who was born Dutch but is now a German citizen, was sentenced to prison in the 1980s for the murder of two Dutch Jews during the Second World War. Trial sessions are reportedly limited to three hour periods in light of Bruins' age. If convicted, Bruins would likely face a life sentence.
Despite the ages of the accused, authorities have continued to arrest individuals charged with war crimes during the Holocaust. In June Hungarian prosecutors charged [JURIST report] Laszlo Csatary, a 98-year-old Hungarian man, with the unlawful execution and torture of people in connection with the Holocaust. Csatary died [JURIST report] last month while awaiting trial. In May German authorities arrested [JURIST report] a 93-year-old man for allegedly serving as a guard at Auschwitz and assisting in the mass murder carried out at the death camp. German prosecutors have reopened [JURIST report] hundreds of investigations involving former death camp guards after the conviction [JURIST report] of John Demjanjuk [NNDB profile; JURIST news archive] in May 2011 for the murder of thousands during the Holocaust. Demjanjuk was sentenced to five years in prison but was released early due to old age and died in September 2011 while awaiting an appeal [JURIST report].