Former SS Officer Arrested
STUTTGART, Germany (AP) _ An 81-year-old former SS officer has been arrested on new evidence for the shooting deaths of seven Jewish concentration camp prisoners in 1945, prosecutors said Thursday.
Julius Viel is accused of killing the seven inmates at the former Theresienstadt concentration camp, in the present-day Czech Republic, as they were digging anti-tank trenches near the Czech town of Leitmeritz.
He was arrested Wednesday at his home in a village near Wangen, close to the Austrian border, after officials received documents linking Viel to the deaths, said Sabine Maylaender, spokeswoman for the prosecutors’ office in Stuttgart.
``These documents support the testimony of witnesses″ who said Viel ``randomly″ shot the seven prisoners, Maylaender said.
Viel was an instructor at an SS officers’ school in Leitmeritz at the time, prosecutors said.
Viel denies any involvement in the shootings and told investigators he was not in the region.
Investigators identified Viel on information obtained by Nazi hunter Steven Rambam from a University of Montreal professor, who gave the name of a witness on the condition Rambam would conceal his former SS association, prosecutors said.
The witness, who lives in North America, has been in contact with German investigators, Maylaender said. Investigators have also identified 900 witnesses in Germany and Austria and heard testimony from 300, she said.
Viel worked for newspapers in the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg for years, and was awarded the federal medal of honor in 1983 for encouraging hiking through his newspaper columns.