More war crime files revealed

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The Independent Online
Files on three more alleged war criminals believed to be living in Britain were handed to the British ambassador in Tel Aviv yesterday by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

The three names are unknown to the Scotland Yard unit which has investigated hundreds of suspects and recommended three for prosecution. Two other files handed over at the same time contain additional evidence against men the police investigated but decided there was not a strong enough case to proceed.

The Wiesenthal Centre hopes the new evidence will put pressure on the police to support the war crimes unit out of its own budget after the Home Secretary, Michael Howard, decided to stop its special funding from the end of March.

Efraim Zuroff, director of the centre in Jerusalem, insisted specialists needed to be kept in place by Scotland Yard to investigate emerging evidence. He said: "In view of the greater access to archives in the former Soviet Union in which the crimes of the Holocaust took place, there is every likelihood that we will be able to uncover numerous additional Nazi war crimes suspects living in Britain during the coming months." The five files were obtained covertly from Lithuania, where the men lived during the war. The crimes are connected with the period of German occupation of the country during 1942 and 1943, when they employed local collaborators to man death squads to round up and murder civilians, including women and children, in Lithuania and in neighbouring countries.

Mr Zuroff said although none of the five was a high-ranking officer, they include one suspect against whom there is eye-witness evidence that he committed "hands on" murder of civilians. There are a large number of names of witnesses against the five, including surviving friends and relatives of victims who escaped to Israel and the United States after the war.

Two suspected war criminals are understood to have been recommended for trial, according to sources close to the inquiry. Seven more are being considered by the Treasury counsel, and when he has given his opinion to Barbara Mills, the Director of Public Prosecutions, she will decide whether to forward the cases to the Attorney General, Sir Nicholas Lyell.

When told about the five new files yesterday, a Scotland Yard spokesman said: "We have not seen this material. We will have to examine it and see whether it merits an investigation."

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