The Simon Wiesenthal Center announced today that it had received the names of one hundred eighty four suspects accused of participation in Holocaust crimes in Lithuania or as members of Lithuanian Security Police units outside the country during the initial year of its “Operation: Last Chance” project launched together with the Targum Shlishi Foundation of Miami in July 2002 in Vilnius.
In a statement issued in Jerusalem by Israel director and project coordinator Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center noted with satisfaction that the names of thirty two suspects had already been submitted to Chief Prosecutor Rimvydas Valentukevicius of the Special Investigations Division of the Lithuanian Procurator-General for formal investigation and that the Center was looking forward to the opening of additional official investigations against at least several of the suspects.
According to Zuroff:
“The results achieved during the first year of “Operation: Last Chance” in Lithuania are the best proof of the significance of this project. Most of the names submitted to us were unknown and they constitute an important addition to our knowledge of the identity of the perpetrators of the Holocaust.
”Two official murder investigations – regarding the murder of Jews in Seirijai and Rokiskis – have already been opened by the Lithuanian authorities and we look forward to the opening of additional murder investigations in the near future based on the information from “Operation: Last Chance” which we have submitted to Chief Prosecutor Valentukevicius in recent weeks.
“We again call upon the public to come forward with any information known to them regarding the identity of unprosecuted Nazi murderers currently alive anywhere in the world.”
To date, the Center has not paid any financial rewards to informants in Lithuania but will do so as soon as there is an official murder investigation against any suspect healthy enough to stand trial.
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