Samuel Kunz
Samuel Kunz Photo by Max Malsch
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German prosecutors have launched an investigation into circumstances surrounding the death of one of the world's most-wanted Nazi suspects, after an autopsy found he may have not died of cardiac arrest as initially believed.

According to Focus, the German weekly news magazine, the autopsy found 89-year-old Samuel Kunz had died of unnatural hypothermia.

Bonn prosecutor Robin Fassbender acknowledged that an autopsy had been done but said details will not be released until the results are conclusive. He said it was not yet known when the final report would be made available to the public.

Kunz was No. 3 on the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of most-wanted Nazi criminals. German prosecutors say he participated in the murder of Jews in the Belzec death camp in Poland, where he served as a guard between January 1942 and July 1943.

According to the indictment, served shortly before his death, Kunz was involved in all aspects of the murder of 434,000 Jews deported to the camp: their disembarking from the trains, their transport to the gas chambers and the burial of their bodies in mass graves. The indictment also noted that Kunz had murdered dozens of Jews with his own hands. He denied all these charges.

Like another suspected Nazi war criminal, John Demjanjuk, Kunz was a Red Army soldier who had been captured by the Germans and became a collaborator. After the war, he settled in Bonn and worked for the government until his retirement. He testified as a witness in several trials involving Nazi war criminals in the 1960s.

Kunz was put on trial after documents that contained incriminating evidence against him were discovered during the course of the Demjanjuk trial, in which he was scheduled to appear as a witness. Kunz was indicted last July on 10 counts of murder and 430,000 counts of accessory to murder.