The Simon Wiesenthal Center announced today that it had received information on thirty-eight suspects accused of participation in Holocaust crimes in Latvia or as members of Latvian 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 a statement issued in Jerusalem by Israel director and project coordinator Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center noted with satisfaction that the names of ten suspects had already been submitted to Chief Prosecutor Janis Osis of the Division of Investigation of Crimes of Totalitarian Regimes for formal investigation and that the Center was looking forward to the opening of official investigations against at least several of the suspects. Four of the suspects were living abroad – in Canada, the United States, and Sweden.
According to Zuroff:
“During its initial year, “Operation: Last Chance” has clearly proven its significance by providing prosecutors in Latvia (and Lithuania ) with an opportunity to bring to justice Holocaust perpetrators whose whereabouts and crimes were unknown to local prosecutors. In addition, the names submitted to the Wiesenthal Center constitute on important addition to our knowledge of the identities of the perpetrators of the Holocaust.
“We are hopeful that the Latvian authorities will succeed in bringing as many as possible of the suspects to trial and that justice will finally be achieved in these cases.
“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 Latvia 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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