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Defense seeks acquittal for former Auschwitz guard, 94

Former Auschwitz guard Oskar Groening, second left, sits in a courtroom prior to the start of his trial in Lueneburg, northern Germany, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. The 94-year-old former SS sergeant who served in Auschwitz said he helped the death camp function in his role sorting cash and valuables seized from Jews after they arrived in cattle-cars. (Axel Heimken/Pool Photo via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — A lawyer for a 94-year-old former SS sergeant who served at the Auschwitz death camp urged a German court Tuesday to acquit his client of charges that he was an accessory to murder.

Defendant Oskar Groening has testified that he guarded prisoners’ baggage after they arrived at Auschwitz and collected money stolen from them. Prosecutors say that amounts to helping the death camp function.

Defense lawyer Hans Holtermann, however, said in his closing arguments that as far as the law is concerned Groening did not facilitate mass murder, news agency dpa reported.

The state court in Lueneburg, in northern Germany, plans to issue its verdict on Wednesday.

Groening said when his trial opened in April that he bears a share of the moral guilt for atrocities at the camp but that it was up to judges to determine whether he is guilty under criminal law.

Oskar Groening is being tried on 300,000 counts of accessory to murder, related to a period between May and July 1944 when hundreds of thousands Jews from Hungary were brought to the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex in Nazi-occupied Poland. Most were immediately gassed to death.

If convicted, Groening could get from three to 15 years in prison. Prosecutors have asked for 3

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