A World War II Nazi tank discovered in a retiree's basement leads to legal spat. There was also a torpedo and an anti-aircraft gun.
The Second World War era Panther main battle tank prepared for the transport of an 84-year-old property in Heikendorf, Germany, 2 July 2015. ARSTEN REHDER / dpa / Getty images
An 84-year-old German is at the center of a legal debate after a Panther tank was found in his basement during a raid.
The public prosecutor says the pensioner has violated the German War Weapons Control Act.
A US museum is interested in buying the tank.
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A German pensioner is at the center of a legal battle after police found a World War II Panther tank, anti-aircraft gun and torpedo in his basement in 2015.
A team of prosecutors and lawyers are working to negotiate a sentence for the 84-year-old, which could include a suspended sentence and a fine of up to € 500,000.
A debate has broken out as to whether the military collector has violated the German War Weapons Control Act. The defense argues that the guns are no longer functional, hence not in violation of this law, and would accept a lower fine of € 50,000, according to an RT-DE report.
However, this is denied by prosecutors who argue that the guns could still be used.
A horde of Nazi memorabilia
The 84-year-old defendant of tank possession (M) and his lawyer Gerald Goecke (l) are waiting in the courtroom for the trial to begin. Photo by Axel Heimken / picture alliance via Getty Images
According to his lawyer, a US museum wants to buy the war-time Panther tank, and militaria collectors are interested in the defendant's 70 assault rifles and numerous pistols, Die Welt reported.
The guns were discovered in the pensioner's basement in 2015 after local authorities were informed of the contents of the war after a search of the property for Nazi artwork, the BBC said.
It took 20 soldiers nine hours to remove the stock of military equipment from the stranger's house in Heikendorf, a suburb of Kiel, in northern Germany.
There was also a horde of Nazi memorabilia, including a bust of Hitler, mannequins in Nazi uniforms, swastika pendants, SS rune lamps and a statue of a naked warrior with a sword in his outstretched hand that once stood outside Hitler's office Berlin, War History Online reported on the dictator's favorite sculptor, Arno Breker.
The Lord Mayor of Heikendorf, Alexander Orth, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung at the time of the raid that the man had once driven the tank in 1978.
When asked about who owned the tank, the mayor replied: "One person loves steam locomotives, the other old tanks."
The case is expected to close in August 2021.
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