The Dutch government yesterday announced it had issued a European arrest warrant for one of the most prominent Nazi war crimes suspects - a collaborator convicted in the Netherlands but living in freedom in Germany.
Klaas Carel Faber, 88, was convicted in 1947 of complicity in 22 murders and for aiding the enemy in time of war for helping the Nazi occupiers during the Second World War, Dutch prosecutors said.
He was given a death sentence that was later commuted to life in prison, but he escaped and fled to Germany in 1952, where he was granted citizenship.
Faber has lived in freedom there ever since, as Germany refused to extradite one of its own nationals, yet attempts by German authorities to prosecute him there foundered on legal technicalities.
Dutch prosecutors said they decided to try to get Faber back on Dutch soil to serve his existing sentence using the new European arrest warrant system, which was adopted in 2002 to allow the speedy transfer of suspects or convicts between European Union members.
Spokeswoman Tinneke Zwart said it was not certain the warrant system could be applied in Faber's case. "There were contacts at the ministers' level, and they decided they would do their utmost to let this person serve his sentence," she said. "The goal is extradition."
Ms Zwart said it was now up to the German legal system to react to the warrant.
"This is very good news," said Efraim Zuroff, the chief Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre. "This really puts the onus on Germany - now there's absolutely no reason this guy, who is a person who committed many murders, should be protected by German law."
The German justice ministry spokesman, Ulrich Staudigl, confirmed the request had been received by his office and was being "quickly" sent to Munich prosecutors, who are handling the case.
Munich prosecutor Alfons Obermeier said it was hard to say when the extradition request could be decided without the request in hand. But he added that several aspects would have to be considered, including Faber's German citizenship and the fact that a German court had already rejected Dutch requests for his extradition before the new warrant system was adopted.
"We will examine it speedily, but there are complex legal issues," he said.
Mr Obermeier's office reviewed Faber's case in August at the request of German justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, but concluded Faber could not be prosecuted in Munich without new evidence.
Mr Zuroff said Faber volunteered for Hitler's SS during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in the 1940s.He worked for the death squad code-named Silbertanne (Silver Fir), which carried out killings of resistance members, Nazi opponents and people who hid Jews.
Ms Zwart said Faber's 1947 conviction cited 22 killings in three Dutch cities in 1944-45, including six at the Westerbork transit camp, where thousands of Dutch Jews, including Anne Frank, were held before being sent to labour camps or death camps in the east.
Faber's conviction of "aiding the enemy" was due to his eagerness to turn Dutch citizens over to the German authorities, Ms Zwart said.
Faber, a father of three, lives in the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt, where he worked for carmaker Audi until he retired.