An 88-year-old German man considered one of the most prominent Nazi war crimes suspects alive won't be extradited to the Netherlands and can continue to live in freedom, German officials said Wednesday.
Klaas Carel Faber was convicted in 1947 of complicity in 22 murders and for aiding the Netherlands' Nazi occupiers during World War II. He was handed a death sentence that was later commuted to life in prison, according to Dutch prosecutors. But in 1952 he escaped and fled to Germany where he has lived in freedom ever since despite several attempts to try or extradite him.
The latest, and presumably last, attempt failed this week, "basically putting an end to the case," Munich prosecutor Alfons Obermeier said.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center last year elevated Faber to No. 3 on its "most wanted" list as other suspects had passed away.
"This is outrageous. There is no ambiguity: This the worst possible decision, which only helps a convicted multiple murder to escape justice," said the center's chief Nazi hunter, Efraim Zuroff.
Faber objected to being extradited, and the Dutch request cannot be granted as his consent is mandatory due to his German citizenship, Ingolstadt court spokesman Jochen Boesl said.
Obermeier added that, if the Netherlands asked for Faber to serve his sentence in Germany, that also could not be granted because of earlier court rulings.
The prosecutor's office reviewed Faber's case in August at the request of German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, but concluded he could not be prosecuted without new evidence.
The Dutch government last year issued a European arrest warrant for Faber. Prosecutors there declined to comment Wednesday pending the official notification by German authorities.
According to the Wiesenthal center, Faber volunteered for Hitler's SS, a paramilitary organization loyal to Nazi ideology, during the German occupation of the Netherlands in the 1940s. He worked for the death squad code named "Silbertanne," or "Silver Fir," which carried out killings of resistance members, Nazi opponents, and people who hid Jews.
"To the best of our knowledge, Faber remains totally unrepentant," Zuroff said.
Dutch prosecutors said Faber was convicted for killings in three different Dutch cities in 1944-1945, including six at the Westerbork transit camp, where thousands of Dutch Jews, including Anne Frank, were held before being sent to labor camps or death camps in the East.
Groups of Holocaust survivors called the failure to bring him to justice "a disgraceful moral offense."
"The victims of the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands whose terrible fate was encapsulated in the eloquent testimony of Anne Frank have been betrayed and the demands of justice have been scorned," said Elan Steinberg, deputy chief of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants.
Faber fathered three children in Germany and lives in the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt, where he worked for automaker Audi until he retired.
Independently, another decades-old case of a Nazi suspect is winding up in Germany. The 91-year-old retired Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk is charged at a Munich court with 28,060 counts of accessory to murder on accusations he agreed to serve as a guard at the Sobibor camp after being captured by the Nazis.
He denies the charges. A verdict may come on Thursday.
Mike Corder in The Hague contributed to this report.