Polish authorities have accused a Minnesota man, Michael Karkoc, of being a Nazi commander during World War II. Karkoc, they allege, oversaw the killing of 44 Polish nationals whiled commanding a unit in the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defence Legion.
Karkoc, 98, has previously been accused World War II war crimes. In 2013, German authorities opened an investigation into his wartime activities following an Associated Press report of the same year that alleged that Karkoc lied to United States officials to gain entry to the country in 1949, telling them he had performed no military service during the war.
The German investigation was closed in 2015, the BBC reported, after prosecutors received what they called “comprehensive medical documentation” that he was medically unable to stand trial.
The BBC quoted Polish prosecutor Robert Janicki, one of a team pursuing the case under Poland’s government-affiliated National Remembrance Institute, as saying that the years-long investigation into Karkoc confirmed his identity “”100%.”
Karkoc’s family has denied the charges against him. His son, Andriy Karkoc, told the BBC his father was not in Poland during the war.
If a regional court in Lublin grants prosecutors’ request to have an arrest warrant issued for Karkoc, Poland will request his extradition from the United States.
“It sends a very powerful message,” Efraim Zuroff, head Nazi hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center told The Washington Post in response to the charges, “and these kinds of things should not be abandoned just because of the age of a suspect.”