Denmark closes probe into man suspected of Holocaust crimes

Denmark’s chief prosecutor claims there is insufficient evidence to prove Danish citizen Helmuth Leif Rasmussen, 91, was involved in mass killings during the Holocaust. 

Danish authorities announced Friday they are ending the probe into Helmuth Leif Rasmussen’s alleged involvement in the mass murder of Jews in Belarus during the Holocaust, saying they have “not found evidence he committed or took part in the killings.”

The 15-month investigation had been “very thorough” but evidence against Rasmussen, 91 and a Danish citizen, was “limited,” chief prosecutor Steen Bechmann Jacobsen stated.

“To be prosecuted for participation in mass killings requires a closer connection to the crime itself. You do not prosecute a known burglar for lots of burglaries in a neighborhood simply because he was in the area at the time of break-ins. You need evidence,” he told AP.

“This is a very sad day,” said Ephraim Zuroff , the head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s office in Jerusalem. While Rasmussen “must be happy,” Zurrof said “the relatives of the victims are not.”

Zuroff asked police in July 2015 to investigate the case after Denmark’s Justice Ministry had turned down a similar request saying it was not their matter.

He thought there was a strong case against Rasmussen because of documents found by Danish historians that showed he was in the inner circle of the camp from late 1942 to early 1943, a site that was run by the Waffen SS where 1,400 Jews were murdered.

“To us (Rasmussen) was part of the operation. That should have been enough to convict him for accessory to murder,” Zuroff said.

“We have the same requirements for evidence, whether the matter is one hour old or 73 years old,” Bechmann Jacobsen said.

“We have thoroughly investigated the case, but there is still no evidence that (Rasmussen) committed a specific crime for which he hasn’t already been convicted,” Bechmann Jacobsen, added.

Rasmussen was sentenced after World War II to six years’ imprisonment for having served as a soldier for Nazi Germany.

Now known by the name Rasboel, Rasmussen admitted being among the 6,000 Danish volunteers who joined the Waffen SS after Germany invaded the country in 1940.

While Rasmussen has vehemently denied any involvement in the killings, one of the authors of the book “En skole i vold” (A Book of Violence), Dennis Larsen, says Rasmussen admitted seeing Jews being killed and thrown into mass graves.

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“But he always said he was a bystander,” Larsen earlier told the AP.

Bechmann Jacobsen added that another Dane who was at the camp at the same time as Rasmussen won’t be prosecuted either for the same reasons.

Zuroff said he was “strongly considering an appeal” of the decision to Denmark’s top prosecutor.

By: World Israel News Staff
AP contributed to this report.