Lawyers for a 97-year-old former secretary to the SS commander of Nazi Germany’s Stutthof concentration camp asked Tuesday for their client to be acquitted, arguing that she didn’t know about the atrocities committed at the camp located in what is now northern Poland.
Irmgard Furchner has been on trial for over a year at the Itzehoe state court in northern Germany. In her closing statement, Furchner said she was sorry for what had happened and regretted that she had been there at the time, according to a court spokesman.
Her lawyers requested her acquittal, arguing that the evidence hadn’t shown beyond doubt that Furchner knew about the systematic killings at the camp, meaning there was no proof of intent as required for criminal liability.
Prosecutors accused Furchner of being part of the apparatus that helped the Nazis’ Stutthof camp function during World War II. In their closing arguments last month, they called for her to be convicted as an accessory to murder and given a two-year suspended sentence.
Tens of thousands of people died at Stutthof and its satellite camps, or on death marches at the end of World War II.
Furchner, who made headlines last year when she absconded from trial, is being tried in juvenile court because she was under 21 at the time of the alleged crimes.
The court said a verdict is expected on Dec. 20.
A defendant accused of fatally shooting a man because he didn’t want to pay him for a drug deal pleaded not guilty in Brown County Circuit Court Monday.
Pedro Santiago-Marquez is charged with first-degree intentional homicide and being party to mutilating a corpse in connection with the Sept. 27 murder of Jason Mendez-Ramos.
Prosecutors say Mendez-Ramos was angry that he had not been paid $80,000 for a cocaine deal. A criminal complaint says rather than pay for the cocaine, Santiago-Marquez shot him in the head with a pistol. The victim’s burned body was found at the edge of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay campus, WLUK-TV reported.
Security videos, cell phone tracking information, and DNA tie Rodriguez-Garcia to that scene, according to the criminal complaint.
Another man, 47-year-old Alexander Burgos-Mojica, is charged with harboring or aiding a felon in connection with the case. He returns to court March 18 for a balance of initial appearance. Rodriguez-Garcia returns to court March 21 for a status conference on the charge of mutilating a corpse.
A U.S. judge sided Thursday with an attorney who alleged she was wrongly fired by the state of Alaska over political opinions expressed on a personal blog.
U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick ruled that Elizabeth Bakalar’s December 2018 firing violated her free speech and associational rights under the U.S. and state constitutions.
According to Sedwick’s decision, Bakalar was an attorney with the Alaska Department of Law who handled election-related cases and was assigned to advise or represent state agencies in high-profile or complex matters. She began a blog in 2014 that focused on issues such as lifestyle, parenting and politics but began blogging more about politics and then-President Donald Trump after his 2016 election. She also commented about Trump on Twitter, with her name listed as the Twitter handle, the order says.
Shortly after Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s election in 2018, the chair of his transition team and later his chief of staff, Tuckerman Babcock, sent a memo to a broad swath of state employees requesting they submit their resignations along with a statement of interest in continuing to work for the new administration. The request was derided by attorneys for Bakalar and others as a demand for a “loyalty pledge.”
“To keep their jobs employees had to actually offer up a resignation with an accompanying statement of interest in continuing with the new administration and then hope that the incoming administration would reject the resignation,” Sedwick wrote.
Babcock said he fired Bakalar because he considered the tone of her resignation letter to be unprofessional, the order says. But Sedwick said Babcock did not accept the resignation of an assistant attorney general who used the same wording he had found objectionable when used by Bakalar.
While every lawyer in the Department of Law received the memo, just two — Bakalar and another attorney who had been critical of Trump on social media — had their resignation letters accepted, according to Sedwick’s decision.
An appellate court in Poland on Monday rejected a lawsuit brought against two Holocaust scholars in a case that has been closely watched because it was expected to serve as a precedent for research into the highly sensitive area of Polish behavior toward Jews during World War II.
Poland is governed by a nationalist conservative party that has sought to promote remembrance of Polish heroism and suffering during the wartime German occupation of the country. The party also believes that discussions of Polish wrongdoing distort the historical picture and are unfair to Poles.
The Appellate Court of Warsaw argued in its explanation that it believed that scholarly research should not be judged by courts. But it appeared not to be the end: a lawyer for the plaintiff said Monday that she would appeal Monday’s ruling to the Supreme Court.
The ruling was welcomed by the two researchers, Jan Grabowski and Barbara Engelking, who declared it a “great victory” in a Facebook post.
“We greet the verdict with great joy and satisfaction all the more, that this decision has a direct impact on all Polish scholars, and especially on historians of the Holocaust,” they said.
Monday’s ruling comes half a year after a lower court ordered the two researchers to apologize to a woman who claimed that her deceased uncle had been defamed in a historical work they edited and partially wrote, “Night Without End: The Fate of Jews in Selected Counties of Occupied Poland.”
Lawyers for the niece, 81-year-old Filomena Leszczynska, argued that her uncle was a Polish hero who had saved Jews, and that the scholars had harmed her good name and that of her family by suggesting the uncle was also involved in the killing of Jews.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Monika Brzozowska-Pasieka, said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press that Leszczynska was “astonished” by the judgement and intends to file an appeal to the Polish Supreme Court.