A German court yesterday said it had dropped a case against a 96-year-old former medical orderly at the Auschwitz death camp because he suffers from dementia, ending one of the last high-profile Nazi prosecutions.
Hubert Zafke had faced 3,681 counts of being an accessory to murder at the concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.
The decision to end the proceedings was widely expected after prosecutors last month said the accused was unfit for trial and the case should be dismissed.
The move nevertheless sparked a furious reaction from victims' representatives, who said repeated delays in the proceedings had robbed them of a final chance for "late justice".
"Because of his dementia he is no longer capable of following a trial," court spokesman Carl Christian Deutsch said in a statement.
The charges against Zafke focused on a one-month period in 1944 when 14 trains carrying prisoners -- including the Jewish teenage diarist Anne Frank -- arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Frank, who arrived in Auschwitz with her parents and sister, was later transferred to another camp, Bergen-Belsen, where she died in March 1945.
Some 1.1 million people, most of them European Jews, perished between 1940 and 1945 in Auschwitz before it was liberated by Soviet forces.