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Doctor Accused in Nazi Case Probed

April 8, 2000

VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ An aging doctor accused in the deaths of nine children in a Nazi-run clinic was ordered Friday to undergo new psychiatric tests to determine if he is fit to stand trial.

Friday’s judicial decision follows the suspension of Dr. Heinrich Gross’ trial last month after he was found to be suffering from dementia. The trial’s suspension prompted domestic and international criticism.

There have been three attempts to prosecute Gross, 84, on charges linked to the deaths of thousands of children killed by the Nazis because they were deemed physically, mentally or otherwise unfit for Adolf Hitler’s vision of a perfect world.

Judge Karlheinz Seewald, who ordered the new tests Friday, also ruled on the March 21 suspension after a court-appointed psychiatrist testified that Gross’ dementia had worsened since two examinations in 1998.

Pressure for the new tests built quickly after prosecutor Michael Klackl viewed a post-hearing televised interview that he said showed Gross alert and able to deal with fairly complex questions.

Under Nazi rule, 75,000 people across Europe, including 5,000 children, were murdered for being mentally or physically handicapped. Children were killed by injection, medical experimentation or simply starved. The Nazis called them ``unworthy lives.″

Gross was put on trial twice before, but the case was thrown out in 1950 because of legal technicalities and again in the 1980s because the 30-year statute of limitations on manslaughter had expired.

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