SS Officer on Trial German War Criminal Bungled Toy Pistol Holdup

A 91-year-old convicted German war criminal was fined on Wednesday for holding up a pharmacy with a toy gun. He says he wanted to draw attention to the unfairness of his war crimes trial four decades ago.

Fake or real?

Fake or real?

How does a German war criminal draw attention to what he believes was a miscarriage of justice? By brandishing a sufficiently lifelike toy gun and landing himself in court.

On Wednesday, a 91-year-old convicted war criminal was fined €1,600 for trying to hold up a Belgian pharmacy with a toy pistol. The man was sentenced in Recklinghausen, a city in northwestern Germany, for a "holdup" that took place in Eupen, Belgium in March 2007. The defendant took a train over the border, walked into the pharmacy and pointed a lifelike toy gun at the pharmacist. He said: "Give me all your money. This is no joke," according to testimony in the trial.

But after another customer walked into the pharmacy, the man lowered the toy gun and left empty-handed.

The defendant, a former SS officer, was convicted in 1968 of murdering six Jews in Gorlice, Poland during World War II. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and paroled after 22 years behind bars.

The pensioner, whose name has not been released by the court, admitted to the World War II crimes. But the convict argued that his war crimes trial was unfair because he was under orders from superiors when he committed the murders. He claimed the Belgian heist was an act of "protest" to attract public attention to this point of view.

"I didn't care about the money," said the defendant.

After the verdict was announced, the man stormed out of the courtroom, only pausing long enough to tell his lawyer to file an appeal, according to the local paper, the Hertener Allgemeine.

rbn -- with wire reports


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