A 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard may have to spend at least five years in jail for his complicity in war crimes during the Holocaust.

The German prosecutors are seeking five years in jail for the old man identified as Josef Schütz. The man, who has been charged with involvement in the murders of 3,518 people, has insisted on his innocence.

Schütz had worked as a guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in the Berlin suburb of Oranienburg from 1942 to 1945. The prosecutors in Brandenburg state have maintained that he "knowingly and willingly" participated in the crimes committed at the camp.

More than 200,000 people, including Jews, members of the Roma community and gay people were imprisoned at the camp between 1936 and 1945. Tens of thousands perished at the camp from forced labour, hunger and disease.

Schütz, meanwhile, has maintained that he had no knowledge of what was happening at the camp. He maintained that he did "absolutely nothing." He has been accused of participating in "execution by firing squad of Soviet prisoners of war in 1942" and the murder of prisoners "using the poisonous gas Zyklon B."

He is highly unlikely to be jailed given his age, but a verdict in the case is expected early next month, writes The Guardian. The trial in the case began in 2021, but several hearings were postponed due to his ill health.

Seventy-five years after the end of World War II, time is running out to bring people to justice for their roles in the Nazi system. In recent years, several cases have been abandoned as the accused died or were physically unable to stand trial.

The last guilty verdict was issued to former SS guard Bruno Dey, who was handed a two-year suspended sentence in July at the age of 93.

Since John Demjanjuk, a guard at a concentration camp, was convicted for serving as part of the Nazi killing machine in 2011, prosecutors have broadened the scope of their investigations beyond those directly responsible for atrocities.

Among the women to be held to account for their actions during the Nazi era was Maria Mandl, a guard at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, who was hanged in 1948 after being sentenced to death in Krakow, Poland.

Elie Wiesel
Prisoners at one of the Nazi concentration camps AFP/Getty