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Saturday, 11 March, 2000, 17:31 GMT
Auschwitz doctor escapes trial
Entrance to Auschwitz-Burkenau
Dr Muench boasted of his experiments at Auschwitz
Hans Muench, the last surviving doctor from the Auschwitz concentration camp, has been declared unfit to stand trial for murder.

Public prosecutors in the German state of Hesse have dropped their investigation against Dr Muench, 88, after medical examiners found he was suffering from Alzheimer's disease.


I could conduct experiments on humans that otherwise are only possible on rabbits

Hans Muench
Prosecutors had not yet turned up sufficient evidence to justify action against Dr Muench, said Job Tilmann, chief spokesman in the Frankfurt prosecutor's office.

However, he said the investigation has been called off because Dr Muench's poor health makes a trial impossible in any case.

Experiments

Dr Muench, who now lives in Bavaria, is the former director of the Institute of Hygiene for the Waffen SS.

He was an accomplice of the notorious Nazi doctor Josef Mengele.

He conducted medical experiments on Auschwitz inmates between 1943 and 1945 and has been repeatedly cited in media interviews as being unrepentant about his past.

He was tried for war crimes at a trial in Poland in 1947 for his malaria and rheumatism experiments in which Jews were infected on purpose to study if they were immune.

He was acquitted after former inmates he had worked with in the Auschwitz laboratory testified he had helped save their lives.

Gassed

But a fresh murder investigation was launched against him in 1998 after he boasted in an interview of killing Auschwitz internees.

Dr Muench recalled how he had ordered whole barracks of inmates to be gassed if one person contracted a contagious disease and said he had no regrets about conducting grotesque experiments on the camp's Jewish internees.

"I could conduct experiments on humans that otherwise are only possible on rabbits," he said.

He further praised Dr Mengele, whose own experiments led to countless deaths, as highly intelligent and cultured.

Dr Mengele, who was never tried, escaped to Argentina after the war and drowned in 1979.

A Paris court also wants to try Dr Muench in absentia for approving the murder of gypsies after he said in a French radio interview that gassing them "was the only way to handle them".

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