Wiesenthal Center rejects dismissal yesterday by Kaunas prosecutor of evidence it submitted implicating Lithuanian basketball players in murder of Jews in Kaunas in July 1941

The Simon Wiesenthal Center totally and unequivocally rejected the dismissal yesterday by the prosecutor’s office of the Kaunas District of evidence it had submitted to the Lithuanian Special Prosecutor for genocide cases regarding the participation of members of the Lithuanian national basketball team in the murder of Jews in the Seventh Fort in Kaunas in early July 1941.

In a statement issued in Jerusalem by its chief Nazi-hunter, Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center insisted that the material presented clearly implicated the Lithuanian players and that yesterday’s decision to clear all of them of any suspicion of involvement in crimes that they had clearly committed was “an unfortunate and hasty decision which reeks of misplaced political correctness.” The Center also noted that the statement issued by the prosecutor’s office of the Kaunas district which referred to the testimony of Holocaust survivors and Holocaust victims as “literature” and “gossip,” is not only an affront to the memory of those murdered, but also in effect delegitimizes the accounts presented by the Holocaust’s victims, which are undoubtedly among the most important sources of information on this terrible tragedy.

According to Zuroff, “It is extremely unfortunate that once again Lithuanian prosecutors have failed to acknowledge important evidence from the Holocaust and have rushed to exonerate individuals who deserve to be condemned rather than cleared of any suspicion. In the light of the unpardonable and totally fallacious comments regarding the evidence of Holocaust survivors made by the Kaunas prosecutors, one can only wonder whether it is at all possible for a Lithuanian Nazi war criminal to be convicted of his or her crimes in Lithuania.”

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