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Wiesenthal official has "serious doubts" Heim is dead

JERUSALEM, Feb 5 (Reuters) - The Simon Wiesenthal Center said on Thursday it had "serious doubts" about reports that Aribert Heim, dubbed "Dr. Death" for killing concentration camp inmates with lethal injections to the heart, died in Cairo in 1992.

Efraim Zuroff, director of the Israel office of the centre that hunts Nazi war criminals from World War Two, told Reuters "there is no doubt" Heim had lived in Egypt.

"But the question is whether he died in Egypt. We have serious doubts about that," Zuroff said of the report carried by German television station ZDF on Wednesday and The New York Times. He cited the absence of any remains or proof of death.

He said German police had told him they had also not shut the case on Heim, the most notorious of surviving perpetrators of the Nazi killings of 6 million Jews during the war, who has been missing since evading German police in 1962.

Heim has been accused of killing hundreds of inmates at the Mauthausen concentration in Austria by injecting gasoline into their hearts, performing surgery and severing organs without anaesthesia, crimes which he documented himself, Zuroff said.

ZDF, in footage from a documentary being aired in full on Thursday, showed Heim's son Ruediger saying his father had died of cancer of the rectum on Aug. 10, 1992, after having spent 30 years in Cairo under an assumed name.

Zuroff said news of Heim's death came as the Wiesenthal Centre was preparing to triple its reward for locating him to 1 million euros, but that he was sceptical due to the lack of evidence and family interests in seeing the case closed.

"What is not clear, what is missing from the presentation by ZDF and the New York Times, is the conclusive proof he indeed died in Egypt in 1992," Zuroff said.

"There's no grave, there's no body. We can't do any DNA testing."

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