BERLIN (AP) — It's too early to tell when an 89-year-old Nazi war crimes suspect could be extradited from the U.S. to Germany for trial, Bavarian prosecutors said Friday
Gerd Schaefer, the head prosecutor in the town of Weiden whose office leads the investigation, said suspect Johann Breyer will have the opportunity to fight the extradition request in the U.S. before he can be sent overseas.
The next scheduled hearing there is a month away, he said.
Breyer was picked up from his Philadelphia home on Tuesday on a German warrant and ordered held without bail.
The warrant accuses Breyer of 158 counts of accessory to murder — one for each trainload of victims brought to the Auschwitz death camp in occupied Poland between May and October 1944 when Breyer was allegedly a guard there.
Breyer told The Associated Press in a 2012 interview that while he was a guard at Auschwitz, he was assigned to a part of the camp complex that was not involved in the wholesale slaughter of Jews and others.
Some 216,000 people were brought to Auschwitz on the 158 transports and killed, but Schaefer said his office decided to consider each trainload as a single count. Germany doesn't allow consecutive sentences for multiple counts of the same crime, so the possible maximum punishment of 15-years in prison would be no different, he said.
Weiden's warrant was issued a year ago, but Schaefer said it took time to implement because it was tied in with the complicated extradition request.
U.S. authorities asked Germany in November for more details on "a large number of points" and those questions had to be answered before Breyer could be picked up, he said.
Now it's up to the U.S. legal system to determine how fast Breyer can be sent to Germany for trial, Schaefer said.