German prosecutors on Tuesday sought a 3½-year prison sentence for Oskar Groening, nicknamed “the Bookkeeper of Auschwitz”, a former SS sergeant who served at the Auschwitz death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.
The prosecutors said the 94-year-old’s role at the camp made him an accessory to murder, reported The Associated Press (AP).
Groening has admitted guarding prisoners' baggage after they were unloaded from cattle cars onto the camp's ramps, and collecting and counting money stolen from the new arrivals and sending it to Berlin.
Prosecutors told the Lueneburg state court in their closing arguments on Tuesday that his role helped the camp function, and he should be convicted of 300,000 counts of accessory to murder for those killed while he was there, according to AP.
If convicted, the possible punishment ranges between 3 and 15 years in prison.
Court spokeswoman Frauke Albers said that because Groening was previously investigated in the 1970s but authorities then shelved the case, prosecutors also recommended that he have between 14 and 22 months deducted from his sentence because he wasn't granted a speedy trial.
Groening last week admitted his guilt for his role in the Nazi machinery that sent millions to their deaths, telling the court he was not entitled to ask for forgiveness from anyone but God.
“I’ve consciously not asked for forgiveness for my guilt. Regarding the scale of what took place in Auschwitz and the crimes committed elsewhere, as far as I’m concerned I’m not entitled to such a request. I can only ask the Lord God for forgiveness,” he said in a statement read by his lawyer in court.
When the trial began in April, Groening said he felt moral guilt but it was up to the court to decide if he was legally guilty of a crime.
Dozens of Auschwitz survivors joined the trial as co-plaintiffs, as allowed under German law, and many of them testified about their own experiences in the death camp.
A verdict is expected this month, but has not yet been scheduled, according to AP.
In recent years, Germany has begun a crackdown on Nazi war criminals. The crackdown began following the 2011 Munich trial of John Demjanjuk, a Nazi war criminal charged of assisting in the murder of 28,060 people at the Sobibor death camp and sentenced to five years. The former Nazi died in 2012.