The Case Against 94-Year-Old Michael Karkoc, Accused Of Being A Former SS Officer, Is Likely To Be A "Race Against Time," Legal Experts Say.
Americans are not traditionally good listeners and we don’t have a commendable record when it comes to accepting facts that we consider unpleasant; you know: “It can’t happened here.” And “That doesn’t apply to us.” I must remind you that in every war there are WAR CRIMES committed and there are WAR CRIMINALS…and that includes us. In this changing world we are no longer above the law. There are no “statutes of limitation” for the prosecution of war crimes and war criminals and I hope you will read the entirety of this post in that regard.
There’s a long road ahead in determining whether allegations that 94-year-old Michael Karkoc of Minneapolis once led a Nazi military unit will force him to leave the United States.
( — A top commander of a Nazi SS-led unit accused of burning villages filled with women and children lied to American immigration officials to get into the United States and has been living in Minnesota since shortly after World War II, according to evidence uncovered by The Associated Press.)
German and Polish authorities have expressed interest in pursuing war crimes investigations against the Ukrainian immigrant, but authorities will first need to prove that Karkoc lied on his U.S. citizenship application when he said he hadn’t fought in World War II.
The United States would have to revoke his citizenship — a rare step — before he could be deported to face another country’s war crimes charges.
But St. Paul immigration lawyer Kim Hunter suggested Karkoc’s case will be closely examined.
“These are very high priority cases for the U.S. government,” Hunter said.
Karkoc, a retired carpenter living in northeast Minneapolis, has received worldwide attention since the Associated Press reported Friday that he had served as an officer in a Nazi SS-led military unit responsible for burning villages and killing many civilians in the final years of the war. Although the AP reported it had not found evidence that Karkoc took a direct hand in war crimes, it said he had apparently been present during several atrocities, including the vicious suppression of Polish nationalists by the Germans in the 1944 Warsaw uprising.
On Saturday, Karkoc’s family continued to deny the allegations through an attorney. Karkoc’s son called the AP report “sensationalist and scandalous” at a Friday news conference.
AP Media Relations Director Paul Colford said Saturday in a statement that the organization stands by its story.
“It’s been thoroughly reported,” he said, “including a description of Mr. Karkoc’s own memoir documenting his past.”
Several other national and international cases involving alleged Nazis have shown that time can be the enemy when events are so far removed, the accused are so elderly and so few witnesses remain.
In 1990, an 81-year-old Minneapolis man died in a nursing home before the Justice Department could strip the Latvian immigrant of his citizenship and deport him for war crimes. In 2011, John Demjanjuk was convicted of his role in the killing of 28,000 Jews at a Nazi death camp in Poland, but he died while an appeal was pending.
Still, local and national Jewish human rights groups are pressing federal investigators to take action.
“We should take our historical responsibility seriously,” said Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.
“If it’s true, he’s been hiding here all these years,” he said. “Suddenly the eyes of the world will be on us.”
Age May Prevent Trial
According to the AP, Karkoc told immigration officials in 1949 that he had performed no military service during the war; he became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1959. Proving he lied on his citizenship form, an offense that would allow Karkoc to be stripped of his U.S. citizenship, could take six months to a year, experts said.
Even then, said University of Minnesota Law School Prof. Fred Morrison, Karkoc may not automatically be deported from the United States.
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.”
Today, Holocaust Survivors May Feel One More Very Small Measure Of Closure With The Horrific Sadness, Pain And Terror Of A Past That Is Forever A Part Of Their Daily Lives.
To all outward appearance, Michael Karkoc, commander of a unit accused of murdered civilians during World War II is a pretty nice fellow: father, kindly neighbor, the old man down the block that always has a greeting for everyone. The accused Nazi baby killer hid his sins well. Karkoc obviously lied to US immigration officials about his military service to gain entry into the United States.
Hiding in Minnesota since shortly after the end of World War II, Michael Karkoc, 94, was a high ranking commander of a Nazi SS-led 115 man unit said to have murdered the innocent: burning villages filled with villagers trapped inside their homes.
In 1949, when Karkoc entered the United States he told authorities he had never performed any military service during the war. Wrong! Karkoc was in fact covering up his reprehensible past as a ranking officer and founding member of the infamous Ukrainian Self Defense Legion. That wasn’t the only black blotch on his lily-white soul.
Although records to date do not reveal the depth of Karkoc’s involvement in war crimes, they do confirm his presence at the massacre. Statements taken from the men of his unit and other substantiating documents seem to confirm Karkoc Ukrainian company slaughter helpless civilians: mainly the elder, women and children.
In evidenced, uncovered by The Associated Press (AP) and obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, Karkoc has been secretly living in Minnesota since entering the country.
Nazi SS documents and testimony from members of his unit confirm Karkoc and his men were involved also in the atrocities in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.
The AP report states, “Polish prosecutors announced Friday after the release of the AP investigation that they will investigate Karkoc and provide “every possible assistance” to the U.S. Department of Justice, which has used lies in immigration papers to deport dozens of suspected Nazi war criminals. The AP evidence of Karkoc’s wartime activities has also prompted German authorities to express interest in exploring whether there is enough to prosecute. In Germany, Nazis with “command responsibility” can be charged with war crimes even if their direct involvement in atrocities cannot be proven.”
A retired clinical pharmacologist, Stephen Ankier, based in London is credited with ferreting out the sadist Karkoc. Ankier who took up Nazi war crime research as a retirement past time ran across Korkoc when researching members of the SS Galician Division who emigrated to Britian. When an Internet search revealed an address for Karkoc, Ankier called the Associated Press.
Ankier stated, “Here was a chance to publicly confront a man who commanded a company alleged to be involved in the cruel murder of innocent people.”
The AP report said, AP “located Karkoc’s U.S. Army intelligence file, and got it declassified by the National Archives in Maryland through a FOIA request. The Army was responsible for processing visa applications after the war under the Displaced Persons Act.”
A lead story today on MSN reports, “Efraim Zuroff, the lead Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, said that based on his decades of experience pursuing Nazi war criminals, he expects that the evidence showing Karkoc lied to American officials and that his unit carried out atrocities is strong enough for deportation and war-crimes prosecution in Germany or Poland.”
“In America this is a relatively easy case: If he was the commander of a unit that carried out atrocities, that’s a no brainer,” Zuroff commented. “Even in Germany … if the guy was the commander of the unit, then even if they can’t show he personally pulled the trigger, he bears responsibility.”
The MSN piece further reports, “Ivan Katchanovski, a Ukrainian political scientist who has done extensive research on the Self Defense Legion, said its members have been careful to cultivate the myth that their service to Nazi Germany was solely a fight against
Soviet communism. But he said its actions — fighting partisans and reprisal attacks on civilians — tell a different story. Under the pretext of anti-partisan action they acted as a kind of police unit to suppress and kill or punish the local populations. This became their main mission,” said Katchanovski, who went to high school in Pidhaitsi and now teaches at the University of Ottawa in Canada. “There is evidence of clashes with Polish partisans, but most of their clashes were small, and their most visible actions were mass killings of civilians.”
When confronted by reporters at his home in Minneapolis, Karkoc shook his fist in anger, stauchly refusing to discuss his horrific history. Using Karkoc’s son as an intermediary, AP extended repeated requests for an interview to allow Karkoc to tell his side of the story. All requests were refused. “I don’t think I can explain,” Karkoc said.
My Monthly Briefing……
Bush Convicted of War Crimes in Absentia
In November 2011 the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission tribunal exercised universal jurisdiction to try in absentia former US President George W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, convicting both for crimes against peace because of what the tribunal concluded was the unlawful invasion of Iraq.
In May 2012 after hearing testimony for a week from victims of torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, the tribunal unanimously convicted in absentia former President Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former Deputy Assistant Attorneys General John Yoo and Jay Bybee, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and former counselors David Addington and William Haynes II of conspiracy to commit war crimes, specifically torture. The tribunal referred their findings to the chief prosecutor at the International Court of Justice in the Hague.
Kuala Lumpur — It’s official; George W Bush is a war criminal.
In what is the first ever conviction of its kind anywhere in the world, the former US President and seven key members of his administration were yesterday (Fri) found guilty of war crimes.
Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their legal advisers Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, William Haynes, Jay Bybee and John Yoo were tried in absentia in Malaysia.
The trial held in Kuala Lumpur heard harrowing witness accounts from victims of torture who suffered at the hands of US soldiers and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.
They included testimony from British man Moazzam Begg, an ex-Guantanamo detainee and Iraqi woman Jameelah Abbas Hameedi who was tortured in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.
At the end of the week-long hearing, the five-panel tribunal unanimously delivered guilty verdicts against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their key legal advisors who were all convicted as war criminals for torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.
Full transcripts of the charges, witness statements and other relevant material will now be sent to the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, as well as the United Nations and the Security Council.
The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission is also asking that the names of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Yoo, Bybee, Addington and Haynes be entered and included in the Commission’s Register of War Criminals for public record.
The tribunal is the initiative of Malaysia’s retired Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who staunchly opposed the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
He sat through the entire hearing as it took personal statements and testimonies of three witnesses namely Abbas Abid, Moazzam Begg and Jameelah Hameedi. The tribunal also heard two other Statutory Declarations of Iraqi citizen Ali Shalal and Rahul Ahmed, another British citizen.
After the guilty verdict reached by five senior judges was delivered, Mahathir Mohamad said: “Powerful countries are getting away with murder.”
War crimes expert and lawyer Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law in America, was part of the prosecution team.
After the case he said: “This is the first conviction of these people anywhere in the world.”
While the hearing is regarded by some as being purely symbolic, human rights activist Boyle said he was hopeful that Bush and Co could soon find themselves facing similar trials elsewhere in the world.
“We tried three times to get Bush in Canada but were thwarted by the Canadian Government, then we scared Bush out of going to Switzerland. The Spanish attempt failed because of the government there and the same happened in Germany.”
Boyle then referenced the Nuremberg Charter which was used as the format for the tribunal when asked about the credibility of the initiative in Malaysia. He quoted: “Leaders, organizers, instigators and accomplices participating in the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit war crimes are responsible for all acts performed by any person in execution of such a plan.”
The US is subject to customary international law and to the Principles of the Nuremberg Charter said Boyle who also believes the week-long trial was “almost certainly” being monitored closely by both Pentagon and White House officials.
Professor Gurdial Singh Nijar, who headed the prosecution said: “The tribunal was very careful to adhere scrupulously to the regulations drawn up by the Nuremberg courts and the International Criminal Courts”.
He added that he was optimistic the tribunal would be followed up elsewhere in the world where “countries have a duty to try war criminals” and he cited the case of the former Chilean dictator Augustine Pinochet who was arrested in Britain to be extradited to Spain on charges of war crimes.
“Pinochet was only eight years out of his presidency when that happened.”
The Pinochet case was the first time that several European judges applied the principle of universal jurisdiction, declaring themselves competent to judge crimes committed by former heads of state, despite local amnesty laws.
Throughout the week the tribunal was packed with legal experts and law students as witnesses gave testimony and then cross examination by the defense led by lawyer Jason Kay Kit Leon.
The court heard how:
· Abbas Abid, a 48-year-old engineer from Fallujah in Iraq had his fingernails removed by pliers.
· Ali Shalal was attached with bare electrical wires and electrocuted and hung from a wall.
· Moazzam Begg was beaten, hooded and put in solitary confinement.
· Jameelah was stripped and humiliated, and was used as a human shield whilst being transported by helicopter.
The witnesses also detailed how they have residual injuries till today.
Moazzam Begg, now working as a director for the London-based human rights group Cageprisoners said he was delighted with the verdict, but added: “When people talk about Nuremberg you have to remember those tried were all prosecuted after the war.
“Right now Guantanamo is still open, people are still being held there and are still being tortured there.”
In response to questions about the difference between the Bush and Obama Administrations, he added: “If President Bush was the President of extra-judicial torture then US President Barak Obama is the President of extra judicial killing through drone strikes. Our work has only just begun.”
The prosecution case rested on proving how the decision-makers at the highest level President Bush, Vice-President Cheney, Secretary of Defence Rumsfeld, aided and abetted by the lawyers and the other commanders and CIA officials – all acted in concert. Torture was systematically applied and became an accepted norm.
According to the prosecution, the testimony of all the witnesses exposed a sustained perpetration of brutal, barbaric, cruel and dehumanising course of conduct against them.
These acts of crimes were applied cumulatively to inflict the worst possible pain and suffering, said lawyers.
The president of the tribunal Tan Sri Dato Lamin bin Haji Mohd Yunus Lamin, found that the prosecution had established beyond a “reasonable doubt that the accused persons, former President George Bush and his co-conspirators engaged in a web of instructions, memos, directives, legal advice and action that established a common plan and purpose, joint enterprise and/or conspiracy to commit the crimes of Torture and War Crimes, including and not limited to a common plan and purpose to commit the following crimes in relation to the “War on Terror” and the wars launched by the U.S. and others in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
President Lamin told a packed courtroom: “As a tribunal of conscience, the Tribunal is fully aware that its verdict is merely declaratory in nature.
The tribunal has no power of enforcement, no power to impose any custodial sentence on any one or more of the 8 convicted persons.
What we can do, under Article 31 of Chapter VI of Part 2 of the Charter is to recommend to the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission to submit this finding of conviction by the Tribunal, together with a record of these proceedings, to the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, as well as the United Nations and the Security Council.
“The Tribunal also recommends to the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission that the names of all the 8 convicted persons be entered and included in the Commission’s Register of War Criminals and be publicized accordingly. (THIS HAS BEEN DONE!)
“The Tribunal recommends to the War Crimes Commission to give the widest international publicity to this conviction and grant of reparations, as these are universal crimes for which there is a responsibility upon nations to institute prosecutions if any of these Accused persons may enter their jurisdictions”.
The activist group Anonymous has leaked more than a dozen National Security Agency documents, including the for controlling the Internet, according to a .
The documents — 13 in total — were posted online, Gizmodo reported, along with the accompanying message, "Full of the normal Anonymous bluster: people won’t be silenced, they have the memory of trivia-master elephants, the governments of the world will fall."
The documents relate primarily to the government's PRISM program and appear to be dated mostly from around 2008, not long after PRISM allegedly came into being.
One of Anonymous' key highlights is the existence of an "intelligence-sharing network" that shares data gleaned from PRISM with "intelligence partners" around the world, Gizmodo reported.