BERLIN (AP) — Heinrich Boere, who murdered Dutch civilians as part of a Nazi Waffen SS hit squad during World War II but avoided justice for six decades, died in a prison hospital while serving a life sentence, German justice officials said Monday. He was 92.
Boere died Sunday of natural causes in the facility in Froendenberg where he was being treated for dementia, North Rhine-Westphalia Justice Ministry spokesman Detlef Feige said. He had been the state's oldest prisoner.
Boere was on the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of most-wanted Nazi war criminals until his arrest in Germany and conviction in 2010 on three counts of murder.
"Late justice often sends a very powerful message regarding the importance of Nazi and Holocaust crimes," the center's top Nazi hunter, Efraim Zuroff, said in a telephone interview from Jerusalem. "It's a comforting thought to know that Boere ended his life in a prison hospital rather than as a free man.
During his six-month trial in Aachen, Boere admitted killing three civilians as a member of the "Silbertanne," or "Silver Fir," hit squad — a unit of largely Dutch SS volunteers responsible for reprisal killings of countrymen who were considered anti-Nazi.
He sat through the proceedings in a wheelchair and was regularly monitored by a doctor. He spoke little, but told the court in a written statement he had no choice but to obey orders to carry out the killings.