August 9, 2005  
  Romanian Prosecutor-General to Wiesenthal Center: Decision on Prosecution of “Operation: Last Chance” Suspects Within Three Months

Bucharest – The Simon Wiesenthal Center's chief Nazi-hunter Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, met here today with Romanian Prosecutor-General Dr. Ilie Botos and urged him to expedite the investigations of four Romanians suspected of participating in the persecution and/or murder of Jews during the Holocaust who were discovered by the Center in the framework of its “Operation: Last Chance” project launched in Romania in September 2003. The cases in question were submitted by Dr. Zuroff to Dr. Botos in February 8, 2005 and include former members of the Iron Guard, as well as Romanian Army personnel who committed crimes against Jews in Romania and/or in areas outside her borders.
Dr. Botos indicated to Zuroff that the investigations would be completed within the next two months at which time his office would decided which, if any of the suspects, would be prosecuted. He made clear, however, that the preliminary research already conducted had produced evidence to support the allegations against at least several of the suspects.
In response, Zuroff stressed the urgency of completing the investigations as quickly as possible and prosecuting Romanian Holocaust perpetrators as a mean of helping Romania face the complicity of its government and numerous Romanians in Holocaust crimes. “Such trials,” said Zuroff, “will have unique significance as they will be the first of their kind in democratic Romania and as such, will hopefully provide a highly-important and badly-needed history lesson for all of Romanian society.” ________________________________________________________________________

March 4, 2005  
  Nazi hunt yields Romania war crimes suspects

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - A prominent Jewish rights group said yesterday that its hunt for Nazi war criminals in Romania had flushed out 15 suspects it hoped to see prosecuted by the country's top court.

About half a million Jews were killed during the Holocaust in Nazi ally Romania, including Transylvania, which was then under Hungarian rule. Israel has repeatedly urged the Balkan country to face up to its ugly past.

"The suspects are alleged to have actively participated in the persecution and murder of Jews in several places in Romania," top Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff, who opened a Holocaust crimes hotline in Romania, said in a statement.

Zuroff said the top prosecutor's office was asked to start an investigation into alleged crimes by four suspects, the first people likely to be prosecuted in Romania for war crimes since the fall of communism in 1989.

The chief prosecutor's office said it was investigating the cases and it would closely cooperate with the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

The center launched "Operation Last Chance" in 2003, offering 10,000 euros for information leading to the capture of war criminals, saying it was the last opportunity to find those responsible for the Holocaust.

As late as 2003, the leftist government denied a Holocaust had taken place on its territory, prompting a diplomatic row with Israel and forcing the creation of an international commission of experts to study the EU candidate's Nazi past.

The commission revealed that up to 380,000 Romanian and Ukrainian Jews were killed by Romanian civilian and military authorities. Many were slaughtered in pogroms, murdered in forced labor camps or death trains.

Another 135,000 Jews living in the Transylvania and 11,000 Roma were killed.

Romania, led by pro-Nazi Marshal Ion Antonescu became an ally of Germany in 1940 when it turned into Adolf Hitler's main operational base in southeastern Europe. But it switched sides shortly before the end of World War II when it became clear the Third Reich's days were numbered.



March 2, 2005  
  Wiesenthal Center Submits Names of Four Suspected Nazi War Criminals Discovered in “Operation: Last Chance” to Romanian Attorney-General

The Simon Wiesenthal Center announced today that it had submitted the names of four suspected Romanian Nazi war criminals which were discovered in the framework of its “Operation: Last Chance” project to Attorney-General Dr. Ilie Botos with a request that the Romanian authorities carry out investigations of these cases with a view to possible prosecution. The suspects are alleged to have actively participated in the persecution and murder of Jews in several places in Romania among them Iasi, Dorohoi and Bucharest.

“Operation: Last Chance” was launched in Romania in September 2003. During the past year and a half, approximately one hundred persons called the project’s hotline in Bucharest (021-322-9554) and concrete information was received regarding fifteen specific suspects.

According to the Center’s chief Nazi-hunter Dr. Efraim Zuroff, who also coordinates “Operation: Last Chance,” since Romania became a democracy more than fifteen years ago, not a single Romanian resident has ever been prosecuted for Nazi war crimes, which makes this list of suspects of unique importance. “Despite the participation of numerous Romanians in the murder of Jews both in Romania and outside her borders, the authorities of democratic Romania have hereto never initiated any attempt to find and bring to justice unprosecuted Holocaust perpetrators. That is why “Operation: Last Chance” was launched in Romania and the submission of this list clearly indicates the need for more extensive investigations by the government,” said Zuroff.

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