Dutch reporters questioned after Nazi complaint

Two Dutch reporters were questioned by police Tuesday after a convicted Nazi criminal complained they had violated his privacy by secretly filming him in his room at a retirement home.

Heinrich Boere, 89, was sentenced to life in prison earlier this year for killing Dutch civilians during World War II. His appeal was rejected by Germany's highest criminal appeals court on Monday, but he continues to live in freedom in Eschweiler, Germany, pending a procedure to have him jailed.

Amsterdam prosecution spokeswoman Ruth Gorissen said Tuesday the reporters for the television program EenVandaag were being questioned at the request of German prosecutors, though no formal charge has been filed.

German prosecution spokesman Robert Deller said the reporters were under investigation for allegedly trespassing on Boere's "exclusively private space by entering his room in the old people's home where he lives and filming there."

EenVandaag and its reporters Jelle Visser and Jan Ponsen deny wrongdoing. In a statement, the program noted the Dutch Journalists Union declined to take action after a previous complaint by Boere.

The program said its reporters were suspected of violating a German law against "surreptitious recording," which carries a maximum sentence of three years.

Footage of their visit to Boere's nursing home, broadcast in September 2009, shows a reporter knocking on the door, then opening it himself and walking in. Boere protests that he wants nothing to do with journalists and orders them to leave.

Apparently unaware of the hidden camera, Boere soon relaxes and discusses his past openly.

"If I'm stuck there or stuck here, it doesn't matter anymore when you're as old as I am," he told the reporters about the prospect of prison. "I heard that they have TV in the cell, what more do I want?"

Boere was born in Germany to a Dutch father and German mother, and grew up in the Dutch city of Maastricht. He volunteered for the Waffen SS after the Netherlands was overrun by Hitler's forces in 1940.

After the war he fled to Germany. A Dutch court tried him in absentia and sentenced him to death in 1949. Later the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, but he avoided jail. One German court refused to extradite him because it ruled he might have German nationality as well as Dutch. Another would not force him to serve his Dutch sentence in a German prison because he was absent from his trial.

German prosecutors reopened his case in 2008, charging him for the murder of three Dutch civilians in 1944 as part of a Nazi hit squad. By then he was number six on the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of most-wanted Nazis.

Boere told the court in Aachen, Germany, he was acting under orders when shooting his victims — random civilians who were known to dislike Nazis — in retaliation for actions by the Dutch resistance.

He was convicted in March.

"These were murders that could hardly be outdone in terms of baseness and cowardice — beyond the respectability of any soldier," the judge said.


Associated Press reporter Juergen Baetz contributed to this report from Berlin.