Former SS officer Julies Viel, 83, was sentenced to 12 years in jail by a court in Ravensburg, Germany this Tuesday for the murder of seven Jewish prisoners during World War II. The prisoners were shot as they dug trenches in 1945 near Theresienstadt concentration camp.
The prosecution initially wanted life sentence for Viel. According to the defense, Viel was stationed in Vienna at the time.
Viel became a prominent journalist and was awarded a government order of merit in 1983. He currently suffers from cancer and believes that he will die in jail.
Viel was arrested after a Canadian professor Adalbert Lallier confessed that he had witnessed the killings as an SS recruit officer. The prosecution denied this, claiming that Lallier was lying in order to hide his own Nazi past. Lallier may face the withdrawal of his Canadian citizenship because of his involvement in the Nazi Party.
This trial will probably be Germany's last major Nazi war crimes trial. Remaining former Nazis are either dead or too ill to face prosecution.
Sources: Piontek, Franz-Norbert. Reuters. (April 3, 2001)