‘Bookkeeper of Auschwitz’ appeals for clemency in last effort to avoid prison
A former Auschwitz death camp guard has launched a bid for clemency in a final bid to avoid serving his sentence as an accessory to murder, German authorities said on Monday.
Attorneys for Oskar Groening, 96, filed the appeal with prosecutors in Lueneburg, where he was convicted in 2015 as an accessory to the murder of 300,000 Jews. He was sentenced to four years in prison, but hasn’t yet spent any time behind bars because of the appeals process.
His role documenting prisoners’ belongings saw him nicknamed the "bookkeeper of Auschwitz".
Lueneburg prosecutors’ spokeswoman Wiebke Bethke said her office would likely make a decision on the clemency request this week, in consultation with the panel of judges who convicted Groening.
She said she wasn’t permitted to give details of Groening’s argument for why he shouldn’t serve his sentence.
Hannover prosecutors, who have been handling Groening’s case, told The Associated Press that Groening hasn’t yet been summoned to report to prison following the final court ruling, but that consideration of the clemency appeal shouldn’t delay that process.
Groening testified at his trial that he oversaw the collection of prisoners’ belongings and ensured that valuables and cash were separated to be sent to Berlin. He said he witnessed individual atrocities, but didn’t acknowledge participating in any crimes.
The court that convicted him ruled, however, that he was part of the "machinery of death," helping the camp function and collecting money stolen from the victims to help the Nazi cause, and thus could be convicted as an accessory to the murders committed there.
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