Nazi-era massacre suspect, 86, arrested

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The Independent Online

An 86-year-old former commander of a Nazi-backed unit suspected to be involved in the Second World War massacres of Slovak civilians, including Jews, has been arrested at his home in Munich, prosecutors said yesterday.

The unit had also captured a group of British and US officers - and Joseph Morton, an Associated Press war correspondent, who was with them - on a behind-the-lines mission in Slovakia in 1944. They were executed at a concentration camp in Austria.

The suspect, whom German authorities identified only as Ladislav N, is being investigated for possible charges of 164 counts of murder in what could be one of the last trials of Nazi-era suspects in Germany. He is not being investigated for the capture of the Britons and Americans.

The man, arrested on Friday, is accused of having led a Slovak unit that hunted down resistance fighters when Slovakia was a Nazi puppet state during the war. He is being investigated in the killings of 146 people in the villages of Ostry Grun and Klak in central Slovakia in January 1945. He is also accused of ordering the shooting of 18 Jewish civilians, who were discovered in their hiding places at Ksina, Slovakia, in February 1945. In both cases, most victims were women and children, Munich prosecutors said.

A court in the former Czechoslovakia in 1962 convicted the man, now a German citizen, of those and other killings, and sentenced him to death in his absence. Historians identify the Slovak unit's commander as Captain Ladislav Niznansky, who is believed to have fled to Germany after a 1948 communist coup in the former Czechoslovakia.