Lithuania wants to grill top Israeli historian over war crimes
Agence France Presse
Wednesday, 12 September 2007
VILNIUS (AFP) — Lithuania wants to grill leading Israeli Holocaust
historian Yitzhak Arad over his alleged role in war crimes against
civilians and prisoners during World War II, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
"We have despatched a request to Israeli prosecutors for legal help,"
prosecutor Rimvydas Valentukevicius told AFP.
"We want to send Mr. Arad a notice on our suspicions and to
interrogate him in the framework of a preliminary probe on his
possible participation in crimes against humanity in Lithuania during
the Second World War," he said.
The 81-year-old Arad, who served as the director of Yad Vashem,
Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Authority for 21 years, rejected the
allegations in an interview to Poland's Rzeczpospolita newspaper.
A probe launched in May 2006 showed that Arad, who was a member
of the Soviet NKVD secret service, may have been involved in the
killing of Lithuanian resistance figures at the end of World War II.
Joined Communist partisans
Lithaunian-born Arad, who was active in the underground movement
before joining the Soviet partisans to fight the Germans, has rebuffed
suggestions that he was guilty of the cold-blooded murder of civilians.
"I have never killed a civilian," he said. "It could have happened
during battle but I have never killed a civilian or a prisoner of war
in cold blood."
Arad said the allegations could be part of a vendetta campaign as he
had painstakingly listed atrocities committed by Lithuanian collaborators.
But Lithuanian prosecutor Valentukevicius said suspicions against Arad
are based on his own memoirs and documents provided by the Lithuanian
Genocide and Resistance Research Center.
"We have many documents, which allow us to think that Arad
participated in criminal activities," Valentukevicius said.
Lithuania was home to some 220,000 Jews before thE war and was known
as the "Jerusalem of the North."
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