US officials arrest accused Nazi guard

[JURIST] US officials on Tuesday arrested [criminal complaint] 89-year-old Johann Breyer on charges that he was a Nazi SS guard at Auschwitz and Buchenwald during World War II. Breyer has admitted to serving at Auschwitz but claims that his service was involuntary and that he did not take part in any killings. Breyer was arrested [NYT report] at his home in Philadelphia and appeared in federal court Wednesday, where a judge ordered his detention. German authorities issued an arrest warrant for Breyer last year and are seeking his extradition. An extradition hearing is set for August 21. Breyer's lawyer claims that his client suffers from numerous health issues and mild dementia.

Despite the ages of the accused, 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. Like Breyer, Demjanjuk was also arrested in the US. Demjanjuk was extradited to Germany and 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].

 

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