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Former Nazi Guard Gets Life

An 89-year-old former Nazi SS guard was convicted Wednesday of the murder of a Jewish prisoner and the attempted murder of another. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Anton Malloth clubbed a man to death in 1944 and stomped on his bloody, but lifeless body shouting "Jew pig," a witness had told the Munich court during the five-week trial.

Malloth, who was a guard at the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, was also found guilty of attempted murder in the shooting of another prisoner who had hidden a cauliflower under his jacket.

"He tortured, humiliated and killed people because he considered them sub-humans who had no right to live," Presiding Judge Juergen Hanreich said in his verdict.

Although the court ruled it lacked evidence to convict the former guard of killing two other inmates, the judges still imposed the maximum penalty. Prosecutors wanted the life sentence, saying justice needed to be done out of respect for the victims and as a warning to Germany's increasingly violent neo-Nazis.

The murder charge was based on evidence from a witness at the trial who testified that in 1944 Malloth hit the Jewish prisoner over the head with a stick about 20 times and then kicked him in the chest and head until he died.

Prosecutors said Malloth was motivated by racial hatred and "arbitrarily made himself master over life and death."

Malloth, who has cancer, followed the trial proceedings silently in a wheelchair. He denied all the charges and his defense had asked for an acquittal.

A Czechoslovak court had handed down a guilty verdict in absentia against Malloth in 1948 for killing hundreds of prisoners. But the verdict, which carried the death penalty, was overturned in 1969 on the grounds that not all relevant details of the case had been uncovered.

Munich prosecutors reopened the case after a Czech witness came forward and told investigators that Malloth shot an inmate in a vegetable patch.

The witness, Jiri Kos, testified that he saw Malloth beat the inmate and fire several shots at him, and that he assumed the man had been killed.

Malloth who was born in Austria, took Italian citizenship after World War I and became in a German citizen in 1939 so he could join the SS. After the Second World War he fled back to Italy and reclaimed his Italian citizenship. It was revoked in 1956 after Rome found out he had lied about his Nazi past. He was deported in 1988 and has been held in detention since last May.

Since the war German authorities have investigated some 107,000 people for Nazi war crimes. Nearly 6,500 were convicted, though most received relatively short jail sentences. About 20 investigations are still pending, though officials expect few if any further Nazi war crime trials in Germany now, given the age of any suspects and witnesses.

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