WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland will seek the arrest and extradition of a Minnesota man after confirming he was a Nazi unit commander suspected of ordering the killing of 44 Poles during World War II, a prosecutor said Monday.
Robert Janicki said that various evidence gathered in years of investigation into U.S. citizen Michael K. confirmed “100 percent” that he was a commander of a unit in the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion, which is accused of burning villages and killing civilians in Poland.
The Associated Press has identified the man as 98-year-old Michael Karkoc, from Minneapolis.
Karkoc’s family denies that he was involved in any war crimes.
Prosecutors of the state National Remembrance Institute have asked a regional court in Lublin, Poland, to issue an arrest warrant for Karkoc. If granted, Poland would seek his extradition, as Poland does not allow trial in absentia, Janicki said.
He said the man’s age was no obstacle in seeking to bring him before justice.
“He is our suspect as of today,” Janicki said.
If convicted of contributing to the killing of civilians in the villages of Chlaniow and Wladyslawin in July 1944, Karkoc could face a prison term for life.
Prosecutors in Germany previously launched their own investigation of Karkoc after stories in 2013 by The Associated Press revealing that he had been a former commander in the SS-led unit that had committed war crimes in Poland.
They never expressed doubts about Karkoc’s identity, but shelved their investigation after saying they had received “comprehensive medical documentation” from doctors at the geriatric hospital in the U.S. where he was being treated that led them to conclude he was not fit for trial.