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Commander of Nazi-led unit under investigation

| Tuesday, June 18, 2013, 9:36 p.m.

WARSAW — Prosecutors in Poland and Germany said on Tuesday they are reviewing files on a Minnesota man who was a commander of a Nazi-led unit to see whether they have enough evidence to press charges and request his extradition from the United States.

An AP investigation revealed that Michael Karkoc, 94, entered the United States in 1949 by lying to American authorities about his leadership role in the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion, which is accused of torching villages and killing civilians in Poland during World War II. AP's evidence indicates that Karkoc was at the scene of the massacres, although no records link him directly to atrocities.

Robert Kopydlowski of Poland's National Remembrance Institute, which investigates Nazi and Soviet crimes, said prosecutors are reviewing files on Karkoc's unit for any evidence that would justify charges and an extradition request. Kopydlowski said the files were gathered during separate investigations into the killings of civilians in the village of Chlaniow, in southeastern Poland, and into Nazi suppression of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against German occupation. The AP found documentation showing that Karkoc's unit was involved in both.

“If we have a living person who might be the perpetrator of a crime, we must gather evidence to prove that the person indeed took part in the crime and decide whether the evidence is sufficient to press charges and to seek an extradition,” Kopydlowski said.

Germany has taken the position that people involved in Nazi crimes must be prosecuted, no matter how old or infirm, as it did in the case of retired Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk, who died last year at age 91 while appealing his conviction as a guard at the Sobibor death camp.

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