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Wednesday, 5 April, 2000, 18:36 GMT 19:36 UK
War crimes suspect under spotlight
Heinrich Gross arrives in court
A frail-looking Gross appeared in court at his first trial
The Austrian state prosecutor has formally requested a second medical examination of an alleged Nazi war criminal previously judged unfit to stand trial.

The alleged war criminal, 84-year old doctor Heinrich Gross, is accused of complicity in the murder of nine children in Vienna during World War II.

He stood trial three weeks ago, but the case was postponed indefinitely after a court medical expert testified that Dr Gross was suffering from dementia.

However, the State prosecutor, Michael Klackl, called for Dr Gross to be re-examined after he was seen responding lucidly in a television interview.
The brains of children are stored in a Vienna hospital
The brains of children are stored in a Vienna hospital
Mr Klackl has asked for a psychiatrist from outside Austria to examine Dr Gross.

Our correspondent says this was because Dr Gross was until recently an Austrian court psychiatrist and was said to be close to his colleagues.

If the case returns to court, it will be the country's first such court case since 1975.

Dr Gross faced charges of complicity to murder in the deaths of nine handicapped children during the summer of 1944 under a euthanasia programme ordered by the Nazis at the Vienna clinic where he was in charge.

After the war Dr Gross was charged with manslaughter and served only a few months in prison.

Leading psychiatrist

After the war he became Austria's leading forensic psychiatrist and did research on the brains of some of the children he is alleged to have killed.

Now retired, he developed a reputation as a leading court-appointed psychiatrist and a neuro-surgeon.

The killing of handicapped children was one of the darkest episodes of Austria's Nazi period. After the annexation of Austria into the Third Reich by Hitler in 1938, 772 children were killed in Vienna for euthanasia research.

The Nazis were strong believers in euthanasia.

The victims were starved, then poisoned and their brains preserved for research.

The brains of children are still stored in Austria's largest psychiatric hospital on the outskirts of Vienna.

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20 Oct 99 | Europe
Papon found guilty
13 Oct 99 | From Our Own Correspondent
Trial and retribution
21 Mar 00 | Europe
Gross symbolises Austria's past
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