Berlin (dpa) – An 84-year-old man went on trial in Germany on Friday accused of hoarding a stash of Nazi-era weapons – including an army tank – in the basement of his villa in an upmarket suburb in the northern city of Kiel.
The World War II military hardware, which included an 8.8-centimeter calibre anti-aircraft gun and a torpedo was uncovered in 2015, during an investigation into caches of Nazi art.
Public prosecutors have also accused the man, who has not been identified under Germany’s strict data protection laws, of being in possession of a 5-centimetre calibre mortar machine guns and assault rifles.
In addition, the collection included semi-automatic and fully automatic pistols, and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition.
The search of the villa in 2015 turned into a two-day operation. It took 20 soldiers about nine hours to extract the tank from the property, which weighed almost metric 40 tons.
The defendant claimed to have bought the tank in England as scrap metal.
The key issue facing the Kiel regional court is whether the weapons hoarded in the villa were operational.
The prosecution believes they were, which if proven correct would mean the hoard was in violation of the War Weapons Control Act and other weapons-related offences.
Violations of the act are punishable by a minimum of one year and a maximum of five years in prison.
However, experts commissioned by the court believe that only the anti-aircraft gun is still likely to be a weapon of war and that the other items are no longer operational.
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