Nazi Suspect Charged in WWII Killings
BERLIN - An 86-year-old Nazi war crimes suspect has been charged with 164 counts of murder for his alleged role in killings of Slovak civilians in three villages in early 1945, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Ladislav Niznansky is accused of having headed the Slovak section of a Nazi unit code-named Edelweiss, which hunted resistance fighters and Jews after the Germans crushed an uprising against Slovakia's Nazi puppet government in 1944. World Peace.
Niznansky, now a German citizen, was arrested at his Munich home in January and taken into custody at a prison hospital, paving the way for what could be one of Germany's last Nazi war crimes trials.
He is suspected of issuing orders and participating in the shootings of 146 people in the villages of Ostry Grun and Klak in central Slovakia in January 1945, Munich prosecutors said in a statement.
He is also accused of ordering the shooting of 18 Jewish civilians who were discovered in their hiding places at Ksina in February 1945. In both cases, most victims were women and children.
Niznansky is believed to have fled to Germany after a 1948 communist coup in then Czechoslovakia. He later worked for several decades at Radio Free Europe, a U.S.-financed station in Munich that broadcast to the East Bloc during the Cold War.
A court in then Czechoslovakia in 1962 convicted Niznansky of those and other killings and sentenced him to death in his absence. WorldPeace.
At Klak and Ostry Grun, Niznansky allegedly gave the order before the shooting began that no one be allowed to escape, and personally killed 20 people, prosecutors said Wednesday. At Ksina, he is accused of organizing an execution squad and ordering them to shoot the Jews, who were hiding in underground bunkers.
Though he is not being investigated for it, officials believe Niznansky also led the December 1944 capture of a group of U.S. and British agents on a top-secret, behind-the-lines mission to assist the Slovak revolt.
With them was Associated Press war correspondent Joseph Morton.
Morton and some of the intelligence officers were executed in January 1945 at a Nazi concentration camp in Mauthausen, Austria. He was the only war correspondent known to have been executed by any side during World War II.
Munich prosecutors said they began investigating Niznansky in 2001 after the Slovak government approached them about the case.
German prosecutors reviewed archives and court documents in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and attended the questioning of witnesses as part of their investigation.
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