(JTA) — A judge in Germany issued an arrest warrant for a 96-year-old suspected war criminal after she failed to show up for the first day of her trial.
The woman, Irmgard Furchner, is charged with complicity in the murders of 10,000 people at Stutthof, a camp in occupied Poland where she served as a secretary during World War II.
The Regional Court of Itzehoe near Hamburg declared Furchner a “fugitive” on Thursday when she failed to appear before the court.
“She left her [nursing] home this morning. She took a taxi,” Frederike Milhoffer, a spokeswoman for the Itzehoe court, said when asked about the defendant’s whereabouts, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine.
Although she is 96, Furchner is being tried by a special youth court for “complicity in murder in more than 10,000 cases,” according to the prosecution. She was 18 when she served in Stutthof.
The indictment against her is based on testimonies from survivors of the camps who are now living in the United States and Israel. About 65,000 people were murdered at Stutthof during World War II.
Before her trial, Furchner had argued that her advanced age and medical complications connected to it prevent her from standing trial. Efraim Zuroff, a Nazi hunter and director of Eastern European affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, questioned that argument in the wake of her escape.
“If she’s healthy enough to flee, she is healthy enough to be imprisoned,” Zuroff told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Furchner has admitted to working at Stutthof but has denied having any knowledge of the murders that were carried out at the camp. Stutthof was one of just a few concentration camps where the Nazis and their accomplices operated a stationary gas chamber.