98-year-old Mark Karkoc of Minneapolis, Minnesota was accused of being a Nazi war criminal four years ago, after an investigation by the Associated Press unearthed evidence that he led a Ukrainian SS Unit in World War Two. Now Polish authorities want the man extradited so that he can stand trial for his crimes.
Polish Prosecutor Robert Janicki said that “all the pieces of evidence interwoven together allow us to say the person who lives in the U.S. is Michael K., who commanded the Ukrainian Self Defense Legion which carried out the pacification of Polish villages in the Lublin region.” The evidence is based on wartime documents, testimony from other men who served in the unit, and Karkoc’s memoirs.
Karkoc’s family denies the accusations, calling them “scandalous and baseless slanders.” His son says that “There’s nothing in the historical record that indicates my father had any role whatsoever in any type of war crime activity,” and that “my father’s identity has never been in question nor has it ever been hidden.”
The evidence provided by AP show that he was a leading member of the Ukrainian Self-Defense Legion and lied about that fact to American immigration officials, but found no proof that he participated in atrocities against civilians. However, 1968 testimony from a former soldier of the unit suggests that he did in fact order a retaliatory assault on a village after an SS major was killed.
Aside from questions of his guilt or innocence, there’s the question of whether or not he’s actually fit to stand trial. Prosecutors in Germany gave up on the case in 2015 when they received medical documents from doctors in the US who said he wasn’t fit for trial. His family claims that he has Alzheimer’s.
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Daniel Lang is a researcher and staff writer for The Daily Sheeple – Wake The Flock Up!