A German court has sentenced an 88-year-old former SS member to life in prison for the murder of three men in the Netherlands in 1944.

Heinrich Boere was convicted by the court in Aachen of murdering the three men.

On several occasions, Boere has admitted to shooting pharmacist Fritz Bicknese, bicycle shop owner Teunis de Groot and Frans-Willem Kusters.

Boere said that as a member of an SS commando unit tasked with killing suspected resistance members or supporters, he risked being sent to a concentration camp if he refused.

He escaped from a prisoner of war camp in 1947 and returned to Germany.

He is now wheelchair-bound and has been living in a nursing home.

The Dutch authorities had tried in vain several times to have him extradited after he was convicted in absentia in 1949.

Boere showed no emotion as the verdict was read out in a packed courtroom.

'These were murders that were carried out on a totally random basis,' said presiding judge Gerd Nohl.