Sawoniuk accusers `are not humans'

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The Independent Online
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 that 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 of 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 last week admitted being a police officer in his home town of Domachevo. But he denied murdering tJewish citizens, saying they were his friends. Yesterday, he said he could not have been a member of the SS, as he said the Metropolitan Police officers accused him of being, because he could not speak German. "I could not speak German... how could I join the SS which is the best army in Germany?" he said.

John Nutting QC, for the prosecution, challenged Mr Sawoniuk's version of events, saying that he was lying about joining the Polish Free Army. Mr Sawoniuk denied that.

Mr Nutting then asked him about claims that police officers such as him had been seen killing children. Mr Sawoniuk said this was "absolute lies". "I never put a finger on children in my life," he said.

During the hearing, Mr Sawoniuk threatened to leave the court if he was asked any further questions about the German army, but was told by the judge that he must answer the cross-examination. Shortly before the hearing ended, he became emotional as he told the court that he had suffered a nervous breakdown after coming to Britain and had been given electric shock treatment at the Maudsley Hospital in London in 1956.

"I spent six or seven months in there. Since then I have lost a lot of memory and I have headaches almost every day," he said.

The hearing continues today.