WWII Nazi suspect faces trial after failed escape

The trial of a 96-year-old German woman facing World War II war crimes charges began on Tuesday (October 19) - the second attempt by authorities to put her before a judge.

Irmgard Furchner went on the run ahead of a court hearing in the northern town of Itzehoe at the end of last month - but she was caught shortly after.

Furchner is accused of having contributed to the murder of 11,412 people when she was an 18-year-old typist at the Stutthof concentration camp between 1943 and 1945.

She is facing trial in an adolescent court because of her young age at the time of the alleged crimes.

Her face was barely visible behind a white mask and scarf pulled low over her eyes as she was taken into the courtroom in a wheelchair.

Security was heavy as the judge and legal staff made their way into the court.

Between 1939 and 1945, some 65,000 people died of starvation, disease, or in the gas chamber at the concentration camp near what is now Gdansk in today's Poland.

They included prisoners of war and Jews caught up in the Nazis' extermination campaign.

Furchner is the latest nonagenarian to be charged with Holocaust crimes, in what is seen as a rush by prosecutors to seize a final opportunity to get justice for the victims of some of the worst mass killings in history.

Although prosecutors convicted major perpetrators - those who issued orders or pulled triggers - in the 1960s "Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials,"

the practice until the 2000s was to leave lower-level suspects alone.

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