Stuttgart - German prosecutors are close to pressing charges against 12 people believed to have been accomplices to murder at Auschwitz, the Nazis' largest concentration camp, chief prosecutor Kurt Schrimm confirmed on Thursday.

Legal investigations into 30 suspects were initiated when prosecutors compared a list of concentration camp guards to government data on the suspects' whereabouts.

There is evidence to support the indictment of 12 of these suspects.

“We initially had 49 matches, nine of whom had already died,” said Schrimm, head of the special prosecutors' office in Ludwigsburg that focuses on German war crimes committed during World War II.

He added that a further two suspects could not be identified, seven had gone abroad and one was already in detention.

The news comes after 14 residences in the German states of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Hesse and North-Rhine Westphalia were raided by authorities last week in an attempt to uncover evidence that could lead to the suspects' conviction.

The pursuit of suspected war criminals in Germany is a controversial matter.

Critics argue that prosecutors should be dealing with more current problems, while those in favour say that Germany has a moral obligation towards the families of victims.

In Germany, murder is not a crime that is subject to the statute of limitations.

There is no maximum age limit for trying people.

Sapa-dpa