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.
The Supreme Court ’s conservative majority sounded sympathetic Monday to a Christian graphic artist who objects to designing wedding websites for gay couples, a dispute that’s the latest clash of religion and gay rights to land at the highest court.
The designer and her supporters say that ruling against her would force artists — from painters and photographers to writers and musicians — to do work that is against their faith. Her opponents, meanwhile, say that if she wins, a range of businesses will be able to discriminate, refusing to serve Black customers, Jewish or Muslim people, interracial or interfaith couples or immigrants, among others.
The lively arguments at the Supreme Court ran well beyond the allotted 70 minutes.
Justice Neil Gorsuch, one of three high court appointees of former President Donald Trump, described Lorie Smith, the website designer, as “an individual who says she will sell and does sell to everyone, all manner of websites, (but) that she won’t sell a website that requires her to express a view about marriage that she finds offensive.”
The issue of where to draw the line dominated the questions early in Monday’s arguments at the high court.
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson asked whether a photography store in a shopping mall could refuse to take pictures of Black people on Santa’s lap.
“Their policy is that only white children can be photographed with Santa in this way, because that’s how they view the scenes with Santa that they’re trying to depict,” Jackson said.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor repeatedly pressed Kristen Waggoner, the lawyer for Smith, over other categories. “How about people who don’t believe in interracial marriage? Or about people who don’t believe that disabled people should get married? Where’s the line?” Sotomayor asked.
Hong Kong’s leader said on Monday he will ask Beijing to rule whether to let foreign lawyers be involved in national security cases after the city’s top court allowed a prominent pro-democracy publisher to hire a British lawyer for his upcoming trial.
John Lee said the government would ask for a postponement of Jimmy Lai’s high-profile trial that was due to start Thursday. But he did not offer a timetable for the interpretation that could effectively preempt the court judgment.
“At present, there is no effective means to ensure that a counsel from overseas will not have conflict of interest because of his nationality. And there is also no means to ensure that he has not been coerced, compromised, or in any way controlled by foreign governments, associations or persons,” he said.
The move was targeting overseas counsels who do not have the general practice qualification to carry out legal service in Hong Kong, he added.
Lai, the founder of the now-defunct Apple Daily and one of the most prominent figures in the city’s pro-democracy movement, was arrested after Beijing imposed a tough national security law to crack down on dissent following widespread protests in 2019. He faces collusion charges and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
While the city’s secretary for justice was appealing an earlier ruling that approved Lai to hire a veteran British lawyer at the top court, pro-Beijing politicians and newspapers also voiced objections over the last few days.
An man granted a new trial in the murders of three men in Ohio more than a decade and a half ago has been released after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Stoney Thompson, 43, was originally sentenced in Lucas County to three consecutive life terms in the October 2006 slayings of Todd Archambeau, 44, Kenneth Nicholson, 41, and Michael York, 44, who were found shot and stabbed in a boarded-up house in Toledo.
Thompson, originally convicted of complicity to commit murder, was resentenced on involuntary manslaughter convictions under the plea agreement, The (Toledo) Blade reported. He submitted an Alford plea, in which a defendant does not acknowledge guilt but concedes that prosecutors have sufficient evidence for conviction.
Judge James Bates sentenced Thompson to six years for each involuntary manslaughter count to be served consecutively for a total of 18 years. The judge allowed his release but ordered him to remain on probation for the remaining two years of the sentence.
The Sixth U.S. District Court of Appeals in July had ordered a new trial for Thompson, citing evidence not turned over to the defense by prosecutors that included other potential suspects, recorded testimony of other parties, and a photo of a bloody shoe print that didn’t match Thompson’s own shoes. Thompson’s brother, Goldy, was acquitted in the same case following a separate trial in which the evidence hadn’t been withheld, the newspaper reported.
The appeals court judges also cited a lack of physical evidence tying the defendant to the crimes and noted as “strange” the jury’s decision to acquit Thompson of firearms specifications in each death, given that the victims were all shot and one died of a gunshot wound.