'Nazi war crimes' of 96-year-old Minnesota carpenter Michael Karkoc will not be investigated

German prosecutors do not believe Michael Karkoc will be fit to stand trial

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The Independent US

A 96-year-old retired carpenter from Minnesota will not be investigated for alleged Nazi war crimes, German prosecutors have said.

Claims that Ukrainian-born Michael Karkoc was a former commander in an SS-led unit, made by the Associated Press news agency, will not be examined.

The office of prosecutor Peter Preuss said the decision that Mr Karkoc would not be fit to stand trial was made on the basis of “comprehensive medical documentation” from doctors at the geriatric hospital in America where he is being treated.

The German investigation began after the AP published a story in 2013 claiming that Mr Karkoc commanded a unit accused of burning villages filled with women and children, and then lied to immigration officials to enter the US after World War Two in 1949.

The man’s family has denied he was involved in any war crimes.

AP claimed Mr Karkoc was a founding member and lieutenant in the 2nd company of the Ukrainian Self Defense Legion (USDL) – a battalion organised and sponsored by the Nazi Schutzstaffel, led by the SS.

Following its disbanding, he was transferred to a division of the SS in which he served as an officer and deputy commander, the news agency claimed.

The USDL allegedly took part in war crimes against civilians in Ukraine and Poland.

While Mr Karkoc’s direct participation in war crimes has not been demonstrated, the AP claimed Nazi German records suggest that, as lieutenant and company leader with the USDL, he participated in suppressing the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, as well as in massacres of villages in Poland.

According to AP, a Nazi German payroll sheet found in Polish archives signed by an SS officer on 8 January 1945 suggests Mr Karkoc was present in Krakow, Poland, to collect his salary as a member of the USDL.

Earlier this month, Oskar Groening, a former Nazi SS guard, who admitted “moral guilt” over the mass murders during the Holocaust at Auschwitz concentration camp was found guilty of being an accessory to the killings of 300,000 people.

The 94-year-old was sentenced to four years in prison.

He had argued that as a book-keeper in the death camp he was not directly responsible for the murders.

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