A German court has thrown out the case of a former SS man accused of involvement in the largest civilian massacre in Nazi-occupied France, saying there was not enough evidence to bring the 89-year-old to trial.
Cologne resident Werner C, whose last name has not been revealed in accordance with German privacy laws, was charged with murder and accessory to murder in connection with the 1944 slaughter in Oradour-sur-Glane in south-west France.
Dortmund prosecutors had alleged that the suspect shot 25 men as part of a firing squad then helped as troops blockaded and set fire to a church, in which dozens of women and children were burned alive.
In total 642 men, women and children were killed.
Werner C denied the charges, saying he was at the village but did not fire a shot and was not otherwise involved in the slaughter.
In its ruling, the Cologne state court said no witness statements were able to disprove the suspect’s contention, nor was there any reliable documentary evidence that he was part of the massacre.
“In a trial it could probably only be proved the suspect was in the area during the massacre in Oradour-sur-Glane as he has consistently maintained,” the court said.
“This mere presence is not enough to prove accessory to murder without the proof of other circumstances.”
The court’s ruling can be appealed.