The trial of a 92-year-old former Nazi SS officer began Monday in Hagen, Germany.
Siert Bruins, a German national, is charged with executing a Dutch resistance fighter nearly 70 years ago. Bruins and another former SS officers are charged with the murder of Aldert Klaas Dijkema in September 1944.
Dijkema was detained by SS on Sept. 9, 1944 on suspicion of working for the resistance. Bruins and his accomplice August Neuhaeuser said he was shot when he tried to escape. Neuhaeuser has since died.
Bruins already served seven years in Germany during the 1980s after he was convicted of complicity in the murder of two Jewish brothers in Delfzijl in the Netherlands in April 1945.
Bruins is considered fit enough for Dijkema trial because he is able to sit up for three hours a day. His attorney said the stress of the trial has weakened Bruins.
In July 2012, Bruins told a German television station that while he was present when Dijkema was killed, it was his accomplice who pulled the trigger.
"I walked on the right (of Dijkema), he was on the left, then suddenly I heard the shots and someone fell," he said.
Bruins was silent, however, as the trial began.
"Our tactic will definitely be to keep silent with regard to the charges," his attorney, Klaus-Peter Kniffka, said ahead of the trial.
Prosecutors believe Bruins and Neuhaeuser were driving with Dijkema when they stopped the car in an isolated industrial area. The indictment said the men told the victim to “go take a leak” and then fired at least four shots into his back.
The victim’s sister has joined the trial as a co-plaintiff, which is allowed in Germany.
If found guilty, Bruins faces a life sentence.
The Dutch-born Bruins became a German citizen in May 1943, by the Fuehrer’s Decree making all foreigners who worked for the Nazis German citizens, AFP reported. He lived in Germany nearly 60 years before he was detected.
In July, the Simon Wiesenthal Center began "Operation Last Chance II", a campaign to find the last living Nazi war criminals and bring them to justice before they die.