Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Monday, March 15, 1999 Published at 20:02 GMT


UK

Sawoniuk 'murdered 15 Jewish women'

Sawoniuk allegedly led "search and kill" squads in 1942

The jury in Britain's first war crimes trial has heard that defendant Anthony Sawoniuk murdered 15 Jewish women.


John Silverman reports: "They were made to face their graves"
Fedor Zan, a 75-year-old former schoolfriend of Sawoniuk, said he saw the murders in his home town of Domachevo, Belarus, during its Nazi occupation in the Second World War.

Speaking in Ukrainian through an interpreter, Mr Zan told the Old Bailey: "He mowed them down with a machine gun. There were not less than 15 Jewish women."


[ image: Sawoniuk heard the testimony at the Old Bailey]
Sawoniuk heard the testimony at the Old Bailey
Asked how he recognised who had shot them, Mr Zan replied: "By his size and by his face. He was famous by that time."

Mr Zan told the jury - reduced to 11 members after one woman fell ill - he was taking a shortcut through woods one evening in September 1942 when he heard the sound of crying and shouting and decided to investigate.

Women 'mowed down'

He saw women he recognised to be Jewish undressed to their underwear.

"They had taken their clothes off and were asked to put them in a pile. They were then asked to turn round and face the pit."

"He (Sawoniuk) immediately mowed them down with the sub-machinegun," he continued, imitating the noise of an automatic weapon and miming how Sawoniuk had swung the weapon from side to side.

"Once that happened I looked round and they had gone. The women fell into the hole."

On a previous occasion, he said he had witnessed his aunt and her family being led from the local police station to their execution.

The court heard earlier they were suspected of associating with anti-Nazi partisans.

'I saw them tied up'

"I was taking food to the police station for them. I saw them tied up being led through the Jewish ghetto to the sand hills.

"They were tied in a row - one after another. My uncle was in front, aunt in the middle and my two cousins were at the back.

"Sawoniuk and another policeman were escorting them. Sawoniuk was carrying a sub-machine gun. The second policeman was carrying a carbine.

"Once they had passed through the gates of the ghetto, I did not see them again."

Mr Zan said Mr Sawoniuk had volunteered to join the police in Domachevo, soon after it was invaded by Germany in June 1941, and led "search and kill" squads against Jews.

Mr Zan had pointed out locations of the alleged murders when the jury paid its historic visit to Belarus in February.

It was the first time a British court had convened on foreign soil.

Mr Sawoniuk told police before the trial that he had never heard of Mr Zan, whom he described as a liar.

Mr Sawoniuk, 77, of south-east London, has denied four charges of murder in 1942.



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©


UK Contents

Northern Ireland
Scotland
Wales
England

Relevant Stories

08 Mar 99 | UK
War crimes suspect 'beat Jew'

05 Mar 99 | UK
War crime defendant identified as killer

03 Mar 99 | UK
War crimes trial hears of 'beating'





Internet Links


Holocaust History Project

Simon Wiesenthal Centre


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online