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Another option, Morrison said, is for Karkoc to be extradited to Poland or Germany, which could happen even if Karkoc maintains his U.S. citizenship.
Still, Karkoc’s age means he may never live to see a trial.
“Because of his age, it seems he’d realistically not be tried for his war crimes,” Hunter said about the 94-year-old. “It is a sort of race against time.”
In a letter to a director at the Justice Department, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights organization in California, urged authorities to immediately open an investigation of Karkoc. His age “should have no bearing on the fact that he has never answered for the crimes he is suspected of committing,” the letter argues.
Hunegs pointed out that there is no statute of limitations on lying to immigration officials or for murder. While it’s a long process, authorities should still pursue the case against Karkoc, he said.
The decades that Karkoc has lived in Minnesota, Hunegs added, are a “brazen” affront to Holocaust survivors and World War II U.S. veterans.
“To think that the very people that [veterans] fought may have received refuge in this country is unfortunate,” he said.
Just last month, a former Chicago resident and suspected Auschwitz concentration camp guard, Hans Lipschis, was arrested in Germany — he was No. 4 on the Wiesenthal Center’s list of most wanted Nazi criminals. The 93-year-old was deported from the United States in 1983 after the Justice Department accused him of concealing his Nazi past when he immigrated to the United States about 1956.
In Minnesota, Edgars Inde, a Latvian immigrant accused of committing Nazi war crimes, died before the U.S. government could finish a case against him.
In 1988, Inde was linked to a secret Latvian police unit that executed thousands of Jews during the German occupation. He was the first Minnesotan that the U.S. Office of Special Investigations sought to deport for alleged involvement in Nazi atrocities.
U.S. investigators argued that he concealed his identity and lied about his membership with the police unit. Inde denied the allegations and the case stalled when his health failed. It was dismissed at his death in 1990.
No matter its conclusion, Karkoc’s case is likely to make history because of the way it surfaced, with a British amateur historian contacting the AP after doing an online search on Karkoc.
Morrison, the U professor, said it could spur new cases.
“That makes a big change in the ways things can be pursued,” he said. “Really you can’t hide in plain sight anymore.”
Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141 Twitter: @kellystrib