The Simon Wiesenthal Center today rejected the findings, announced late last week in Tallinn, of the Estonian government’s investigation into the activities during World War II of suspected Nazi war criminal Harry Mannil, which cleared the resident of Caracas, Venezuela, of any criminal responsibility and closed his file. The Center, which years ago identified Mannil as a member of the Estonian Political Police, which actively participated in the persecution and murder of civilians in the Estonian capital in 1941, has been trying to facilitate his prosecution ever since he was discovered living in Venezuela in the wake of the investigation in 1992 of his superior Evald Mikson.
In a statement issued today in Jerusalem by its chief Nazi-hunter , Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center reiterated its contention that Mannil should be held accountable for his role in the fate of Estonian civilians persecuted and murdered by the Nazis and their Estonian collaborators. The Center also termed “absolutely outrageous” the statement made last Friday by Estonian state prosecutor Heino Tonismagi who, according to the Estonian media, accused the Wiesenthal Center of purposely targeting Mannil (a multimillionaire philanthropist) since he was “one of the most outstanding Estonians,” and absolved the Estonian authorities of any crimes since the country was occupied at the time.
In response, Zuroff called the Estonian investigation of Mannil “a pathetic whitewash for political reasons of an active Nazi collaborator who thanks to the ineptitude and/or corruption of the Estonian prosecution will apparently never be held accountable for his crimes.” Zuroff noted that the prosecutor’s totally baseless accusation that Mannil was purposely targeted by the Wiesenthal Center is the best proof that Estonia lacked the political will to prosecute a prominent Estonian and pointed out that Mannil is currently barred from entering the United States due to his wartime activities. It is obvious that Estonia, which has hereto failed to convict a single local Nazi war criminal since it regained its independence, still lacks the political courage to face the practical implications of the active complicity of its nationals in Holocaust crimes.” Said Zuroff.
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