German pensioner kept WW2 tank in basement

A World War Two Panther battle tank is made ready for transportation from a residential property in Heikendorf, Germany, 2 July 2015
The World War Two-era Panther tank was removed from a residential property in northern Germany in 2015

Lawyers in Germany are wrangling over how to deal with a pensioner who stored a World War Two tank, anti-aircraft gun and torpedo in his basement.

The items were removed from a house in the northern town of Heikendorf in 2015 with the help of the army.

Prosecutors and defence lawyers are now negotiating possible penalties, including a suspended sentence and a fine of up to €500,000 (£427,000).

The defendant, aged 84, must also find new homes for the monumental items.

According to his lawyer, a US museum is interested in purchasing the Panther tank. Many historians argue it was the most efficient such vehicle deployed by Germany during World War Two.

The lawyer also said that a number of German collectors had approached the defendant over other items, which included assault rifles and pistols, local media report.

At a court hearing on Monday in the city of Kiel, about 100km (60 miles) north of Hamburg, lawyers were trying to determine whether the man’s military collection had violated Germany’s War Weapons Control Act.

The act regulates the manufacture, sale, and transport of weapons of war.

The defence argues that many of the weapons are no longer functional and that the tank was bought as scrap. They are considering accepting a lower fine of €50,000, Die Welt newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, prosecutors have suggested that some of the weapons and ammunition could still be used.

In July 2015, it took about 20 soldiers almost nine hours to extract the Panther tank – which was without its tracks – from the residential property and push it onto a low-loader for transportation.

Local authorities were reportedly tipped off about the cellar’s contents by colleagues in Berlin, who had earlier searched the home for stolen Nazi art.

Another hearing in the case is due on Wednesday and a decision is expected next month.

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