Convicted Auschwitz guard pleads for mercy

The 96-year-old former Auschwitz guard has launched a bid for clemency in a final bid to avoid jail time in Germany

A former Auschwitz guard has launched a bid for clemency in a final bid to avoid jail in Germany.

In 2015 Oskar Groening, 96, was given a four-year prison sentence for being accessory to the murder of 300,000 Jews in the camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

His attorneys have filed the appeal with prosecutors in Lueneburg. Although convicted in 2015, he hasn’t yet spent any time behind bars because of the appeals process.

Lueneburg prosecutors' spokeswoman Wiebke Bethke said her office would likely make a decision on the clemency request this week, in consultation with the panel of judges who convicted Groening.

Last year, Germany's constitutional court rejected his appeal, ruling that Groening was fit to serve his sentence.

Groening - who is known as "the bookkeeper of Auschwitz" - has admitted his "moral guilt".

During his trial, he testified that he oversaw the collection of prisoners' belongings and ensured valuables and cash were separated to be sent to Berlin.

He was sentenced even though there was no evidence of his involvement in specific killings.

The Federal Constitutional Court noted, however, that German law allows for prison sentences to be interrupted if a prisoner's health deteriorates significantly.

On Monday, a justice ministry spokesman in the northern Lower Saxony said Groening's plea had been passed on to prosecutors.

Christian Lauenstein added: "A plea for clemency does not have a delaying effect such as on starting the prison sentence."

The court that convicted him ruled that he was part of the "machinery of death," helping the camp function and collecting money stolen from the victims to help the Nazi cause, and thus could be convicted as an accessory to the murders committed there.