Trial begins for former Nazi death camp woman, 96, who went on the run before last court appearance

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Irmgard Furchner, 96, will be charged in an adolescent court as she was 18 years old at the time of the alleged crimes   (REUTERS)
Irmgard Furchner, 96, will be charged in an adolescent court as she was 18 years old at the time of the alleged crimes (REUTERS)

A 96-year-old woman who was caught shortly after going on the run ahead of a court hearing last month on charges of committing war crimes during World War Two finally appeared before a judge on Tuesday in the northern German town of Itzehoe.

Irmgard Furchner is being accused of contributing as an 18-year-old to the murder of more than 11,000 people when she was a typist at the Stutthof concentration camp between 1943 and 1945.

Wearing a white mask and a scarf pulled low over her eyes, Ms Furchner was brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair, amid heavy security.

Ms Furchner made international headlines last month when she went on the run for several hours and skipping a court appearance on September 30. She was detained later that day in the nearby city of Hamburg.

In a further twist, although she is 96, Ms Furchner will be tried in an adolescent court, due to her age at the time of her alleged crimes.

Between 1939 and 1945 65,000 people died of starvation and disease or in the gas chamber at the Stutthof concentration camp near Gdansk, situated in today’s Poland. These victims included prisoners of war and Jews caught up in the Nazi’s extermination campaign.

She is the lastest nonagenarian to be charged with crimes connected to the Nazis. It’s being seen by some as a rush by prosecutors to seize the final opportunity to ensure some justice has been served for victims of some of the worst mass killings in history.

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