BERLIN The worlds third most-wanted Nazi suspect, who lived undisturbed for decades after World War II, has been charged in Germany with participating in the murder of 430,000 Jews while serving as a low-ranking guard at a death camp.
Samuel Kunz, 88, had long been ignored by the German justice system, partly because of a lack of interest in going after relatively minor Nazi figures. But in the last 10 years, a younger generation of prosecutors has sought to bring all surviving suspects to justice.
Authorities recently stumbled over Kunzs case as they were studying old documents from German post-wars trials about an SS training camp named Trawniki. The papers were being reviewed in connection with the trial of John Demjanjuk, the 90-year-old retired autoworker on trial in Munich for allegedly serving as a guard at the infamous Sobibor camp.
Kunz was named the No. 3 suspect in April by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He ranked fairly low in the Nazi hierarchy, but he was among the most-wanted suspects because of the large number of Jews he is accused of helping to kill.
Kunz had been living quietly at his home near the western city of Bonn. He received a letter last week saying he had been charged with three different cases of participating in the murder of Jews, authorities said.
He allegedly served as a guard at the Belzec camp in occupied Poland from January 1942 to July 1943.
In addition to those charges, he is accused of fatally shooting 10 Jews in two other incidents related to unspecified personal excesses, prosecutor Christoph Goeke told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Prosecutors allege both Kunz and the Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk, who was deported to Germany from the U.S. last year, trained as guards at Trawniki. In the 1960s, Kunz testified about his time there in a different trial, but he was never indicted himself.
Reached by phone at his home, Kunz said he did not want to talk about the allegations against him and hung up.
Kunz was not detained because officials who interviewed him did not believe he would try to flee, a person familiar with the case said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to reveal details of the investigation.
At the top of the Wiesenthal Center list of most-wanted Nazis is Sandor Kepiro, a former Hungarian gendarmerie officer accused of involvement in the deaths of 1,200 civilians in Serbia. He was questioned in September by prosecutors in Budapest, where he lives across the street from a synagogue.