Josef Schuetz
Josef Schuetz Image Credit: Twitter

Berlin: A former Nazi concentration camp guard who was sentenced to five years in jail last year for complicity in war crimes has died aged 102, a source close to the case told AFP on Wednesday.

Josef Schuetz was found guilty of being an accessory to murder in at least 3,500 cases while working as a prison guard at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945.

The verdict made him the oldest person ever to be convicted of complicity in crimes committed during the Holocaust.

It had always seemed unlikely that Schuetz would ever go to jail as he remained free while awaiting the outcome of an appeal.

Schuetz had expressed no regret during his trial and pleaded innocent, saying he did "absolutely nothing".

After the war, Schuetz was transferred to a prison camp in Russia before returning to Germany, where he worked as a farmer and a locksmith.

More than 200,000 people, including Jews, Roma, regime opponents and gay people, were detained at the Sachsenhausen camp between 1936 and 1945.

Tens of thousands of inmates died from forced labour, murder, medical experiments, hunger or disease before the camp was liberated by Soviet troops, according to the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum.

Germany has been scrambling to bring former Nazi war criminals to justice since a landmark ruling in 2011 that paved the way for tseveral trials.

One former guard, John Demjanjuk, was convicted on the basis that he served as part of Hitler's killing machine, even though there was no proof he had directly killed anyone.

Since then, several former concentration camp workers have been found guilty of being accessories to murder on the same basis.

However, with time running out, several cases have been abandoned in recent years after the accused died or were physically unable to stand trial.