`Dirty, filthy lies,' says man charged with war crimes

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ANTHONY SAWONIUK, the pensioner charged with murdering Jews more than 50 years ago, yesterday claimed that he was the victim of "dirty, filthy lies".

During another emotional session at the Old Bailey, Mr Sawoniuk once again insisted he was innocent and accused those witnesses who had spoken against him of fabrication.

"These people are animals," he said. "I have more sympathy with animals than your witnesses. They are not human beings."

Mr Sawoniuk, 78, a retired British Rail ticket collector from south London who moved to Britain shortly after the Second World War, is charged with murdering Jews while serving as a locally recruited police officer in Nazi-occupied Belarus between 1941-1944. During that time he is alleged to have killed more than a dozen Jews while leading "search and kill" operations, rounding up people who escaped a massacre in September1942 in which more than 2,900 were killed in one day.

Last week the judge, Mr Justice Potts, dismissed two of the four counts of murder on the grounds of insufficient evidence. The remaining two counts contain the details of 18 alleged killings.

Mr Sawoniuk, who took to the stand to speak in his own defence, last week admitted being a police officer in his home town of Domachevo. But he denied murdering the town's Jewish citizens, saying they were his friends.

Yesterday he said he could not have been a member of the SS, as he was accused, he said, by the Metropolitan Police officers who interviewed him, because he could not speak German.

The hearing continues.