BERLIN – It’s too early to tell when an 89-year-old Nazi war crimes suspect could be extradited from the United States to Germany for trial, Bavarian prosecutors said Friday.
Gerd Schaefer, the lead prosecutor in the town of Weiden whose office leads the investigation, said Johann Breyer will have the opportunity to fight the extradition request in the U.S. before he can be sent overseas.
The next scheduled U.S. court hearing is in two months.
Breyer was arrested Tuesday at his Philadelphia home on a German warrant and ordered held without bail.
The warrant accuses Breyer of 158 counts of accessory to murder – one count for each trainload of victims brought to the Auschwitz death camp in occupied Poland from May to October 1944, when Breyer was allegedly a guard there.
Breyer told The Associated Press in a 2012 interview that while he was a guard at Auschwitz, he was assigned to a part of the camp that was not involved in the slaughter of Jews and others.
Some 216,000 people were brought to Auschwitz on the 158 transports and killed, but Schaefer said his office decided to consider each trainload as a single count. Germany doesn’t allow consecutive sentences for multiple counts of the same crime, so the possible maximum punishment of 15 years in prison could not be increased, he said.
Weiden’s warrant was issued a year ago. Schaefer said the arrest was delayed because of the complexity of the extradition request.
U.S. authorities in November asked Germany for more information on “a large number of points” and those questions had to be answered before Breyer could be arrested, he said.