Case dismissed against German
A German court yesterday threw out the case against an 89-year-old former soldier over the Nazis' worst atrocity on French soil, the 1944 massacre in the village of Oradour-sur-Glane.
In a move that met with anger and disappointment among survivors, the regional court in the western city of Cologne said it would not try the pensioner, citing a lack of evidence.
The man, who was identified in media reports as Werner Christukat, was charged in January with the murder of 25 people committed by a group, and with aiding and abetting the murder of several hundred people.
SS troops slaughtered 642 people in the tiny village in western France on June 10, 1944, in a horrific World War II crime that deeply scarred the French nation.
The tribunal said it had examined whether the available evidence would likely be sufficient to lead to a conviction.
"The court determined with today's decision that this was not the case," it said.
Both the prosecution and co-plaintiffs representing victims' families have the right to appeal the ruling within a week.
Christukat, who was 19 at the time, had acknowledged that he was in Oradour-sur-Glane and a member of the SS but disputed any involvement in the murders.
The male victims were mowed down with machine guns in a barn, with any survivors shot at close range with pistols before the barn was set ablaze.
Prosecutors had said that the suspect then went to the village church where several hundred women and children were being held prisoner.
The village has been a ghost town ever since the atrocity, deliberately preserved in its ravaged state as a memorial to those who died on one of the darkest days of World War II.