Former Member of Nazi SS to Stand Trial
Sep. 12, 2003
BERLIN (AP) _ An 88-year-old former member of the Nazi SS will go on trial next week for the 1944 killing of a Dutch resistance fighter, a court in northern Germany announced Friday.
The trial of Dutch-born Hubertus Bikker will open next Wednesday at the state court in Hagen, the court said. Doctors at the Institute for Neuropsychology at the University of Bochum on Thursday deemed him fit to stand trial
Bikker's defense attorney said he was in the hospital after collapsing during the examination, and cast doubt over whether he would be able to appear in court.
``He has very high blood pressure,'' attorney Bernd Eisenhuth said. ``Mr. Bikker doesn't really understand any more what is going on around him.''
Prosecutors accuse Bikker of murdering Dutch resistance fighter Jan Houtmann in 1944.
The 27-year-old Houtmann was injured trying to escape a labor camp in the Netherlands and was lying on the floor of a barn when Bikker caught him, according to the indictment.
The SS man pulled his pistol and shot Houtmann, with the words ``and now, a good death,'' the indictment said. Bikker denies the charges, Eisenhuth said.
Bikker was convicted in the Netherlands after the war and sentenced to life in prison for crimes including torture and treason, but he escaped in December 1952 and fled across the border to Germany, where he has lived ever since.
Granted German citizenship during World War II for his service to Adolf Hitler's Third Reich, the former Nazi was protected under a law that prevents Germany from extraditing its citizens.
Dutch prosecutors sought for decades to have Bikker returned and helped German prosecutors build a case against him.
The SS, short for Schutzstaffel, was the dreaded paramilitary unit of the Nazi party. It was used as a special police and involved in some of the worst crimes committed in territory under Nazi control during World War II.