92-Year-Old on Trial for Nazi War Crime

Germany put a 92-year-old former member of the Nazi Waffen
SS on trial Monday on charges that he executed a Dutch resistance fighter in
Dutch-born Siert Bruins, who is now German, volunteered for
the SS after the Nazis conquered the Netherlands in 1941.

Bruins served as a
member of the Sicherheitspolizei, or Security Police, in a unit looking for
resistance fighters and Jews.

No pleas are made in the German legal system, and Bruins
made no statement Monday about the accusations against him. His attorney said
Bruins would answer questions during the trial but not about the charges.
“Our tactic will definitely be to keep silent with regard to
the charges,” attorney Klaus-Peter Kniffka said ahead of the trial.  
Despite his advanced age, Bruins was found medically fit to
stand trial, though Kniffka said the stress of the proceedings against him has
weakened him.  
Bruins, who already served time in prison in the 1980s for
his role in the slaying of two Dutch Jews, is accused of killing resistance
fighter Aldert Klaas Dijkema in September 1944 in the town of Appingedam, near
the German border in the northern Netherlands.   
If convicted, he faces a possible life sentence.  
Dijkema, whose sister has joined the trial as a
co-plaintiff, which is allowed under German law, was apprehended by the Nazis
on Sept. 9, 1944, on suspicion he was involved in the Dutch resistance.  
According to prosecutors, Bruins and alleged accomplice
August Neuhaeuser, who has since died, drove Dijkema a short time later to an
isolated industrial area where they stopped and told him to “go take a leak.”
As he walked away from the car, they fired at least four
shots into him, including into the back of his head, killing him instantly,
according to the indictment.  
Bruins and Neuhaeuser reported that Dijkema was shot while
trying to escape. Because of Bruins’ age, daily trial sessions are limited to
three hours. — AP
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