The Simon Wiesenthal Center revealed today that it had received official confirmation from the Lithuanian Prosecutor-General’s Office that three new murder investigations have been initiated by the Lithuanian authorities based on information submitted to the Center in the framework of “Operation: Last Chance,” a joint project of the Center and the Targum Shlishi Foundation of Miami, Florida, which offers financial rewards for information leading to the prosecution and punishment of Nazi war criminals. In a statement issued in Jerusalem by Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, who coordinates the project, the Center welcomed the opening of the investigations but warned that unless the cases were given priority treatment, it was doubtful whether any of the guilty would actually be tried and punished for their crimes.
According to Zuroff, the new investigations concerned the murder of Jews and non-Jews in Aukstadvaris (Trakai district), Pandelis (Rokiskis district),and the area of Jurbarkas. All the murders took place in 1941.
“ This brings the number of murder investigations opened in Lithuania in the wake of the initiation of “Operation:Last Chance” in July 2002 to eight and we are hopeful that at least some of the several dozen suspects currently under investigation will finally be brought to trial and be held accountable for their crimes. This will only happen, however, if these cases will be given high-priority treatment.”
To date, the Wiesenthal Center has received the names of 196 suspects from Lithuania, 41 from Latvia, 13 from the Ukraine, and 6 from Estonia of which 67 have been submitted to local prosecutors. In addition, the Center has received the names of an additional dozen suspects from Poland, Austria, and Romania where the project is only in its initial stages.
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