A court in Poland has issued an arrest warrant for a Minnesota man sought in a Nazi massacre, opening the way for Poland to seek his extradition from the United States on war crimes charges.
The Associated Press had previously identified the man as 98-year-old Michael Karkoc, an ex-commander in an SS-led unit that burned Polish villages and killed civilians in World War II.
Earlier this week, prosecutors from the state Institute of National Remembrance said evidence shows that American citizen Michael K. Was a commander of a unit in the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion that raided eastern Poland's village of Chlaniow in July 1944, killing 44 people, including women and children.
They sought an arrest warrant for him from a court in eastern Poland, a step toward extradition. Poland's justice officials haven't released the suspect's last name, in line with Poland's privacy laws.
Judge Dariusz Abramowicz told the AP yesterday that the regional court in Lublin issued a warrant, based on 13 volumes of evidence, including documents from the US, Germany and Ukraine and from Poland's archives. He said that the evidence was strong enough for an arrest to be sought.
"In the court's assessment the evidence presented by the Institute of National Remembrance indicates a high probability that the suspect committed the crimes," Abramowicz said.
Prosecutor in Lublin, Jacek Nowakowski said on local TVP 3 station that among various pieces of evidence that helped identify the man were his signatures from Nazi times and his application for the US visa.
A 92-year-old resident of Chlaniow, Honorata Banach, whose house was burned in the raid, told the AP that everyone was surprised at the news of the arrest warrant.
"People say: 'he's still alive!' But what can they do to him at his age, with death at his side?" she said over the phone. Her family fled the attack.
The decision comes four years after the AP published a story establishing that Michael Karkoc commanded the unit, based on wartime documents, testimony from other members of the unit and Karkoc's own Ukrainian-language memoir.
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