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Last Updated: Monday, 27 March 2006, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
Nazi helper avoids Lithuania jail
Nazi troops
Nazis were helped by collaborators in occupied territories
An 85-year-old Lithuanian has been found guilty of collaborating with the Nazis and persecuting Jews, but he was spared jail because of his age.

Algimantas Dailide was convicted of persecuting and arresting two Poles and 12 Jews while he was a member of the Nazi-backed police in World War II.

The judge in Vilnius did not give him a jail term, saying he was too old and "no longer a threat to society".

The judge's decision has angered the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Dr Efraim Zuroff - the head of their operations in the Baltic States - said it proved that Lithuania was incapable of punishing Nazi war criminals, and unwilling to face the complicity of its citizens in the mass murder of Jews in their country.

The Lithuanian chief prosecutor said he was not surprised by the sentence.

Executions

Dailide fled to the US after the war, but was deported to Germany in 2004.

He denied the charges against him, saying he was only a clerk for the security police.

But he was found guilty of taking part in the wartime arrest of Jewish men, women and children who were attempting to escape from forced confinement in the Vilnius Jewish ghetto between 1941 and 1944. Two Poles were arrested for political reasons.

Many of the Jews arrested by the Saugumas, as the security police were known, were shot at execution pits at Paneriai, a wooded area outside Vilnius, where some 50,000 Jews were killed during the war.

More than 200,000 Jews were killed in Lithuania during the war - many by their neighbours working with the occupying Nazi forces.

Dailide is the third person to be prosecuted for Nazi war crimes in Lithuania since the country's independence from the Soviet Union 15 years ago.

The BBC's Laura Sheeter says previous prosecutions included one man who was declared too ill to stand trial and another who was convicted but declared too ill to go to prison.


SEE ALSO:
Lithuanian 'WWII Nazi' on trial
20 Mar 06 |  Europe
Hunting the last Nazis
29 Jan 04 |  Europe
Country profile: Lithuania
14 Mar 06 |  Country profiles


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