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Tuesday, March 16, 1999 Published at 21:33 GMT


Sawoniuk 'hunted down survivors'

Mr Sawoniuk allegedly rounded up and killed massacre survivors

A witness at Britain's first war crimes trial has said he saw the accused, Anthony Sawoniuk, hunting for Jewish survivors of a massacre during the Second World War.

Fedor Zan, 75, told the Old Bailey he saw Mr Sawoniuk searching Jewish homes in the week after the massacre.

About 3,000 Jews were killed in their home town of Domachevo, Belarus, in September 1942.

[ image: Mr Sawoniuk heard the testimony at the Old Bailey]
Mr Sawoniuk heard the testimony at the Old Bailey
Mr Zan, a childhood friend of Mr Sawoniuk's, said he had been visiting Domachevo's Jewish ghetto while buying bread from the bakery there.

The defence asked him if he had seen visiting German troops, referred to by the villagers as "the Gestapo", scouring the ghetto after the massacre.

He replied in Ukrainian, through an interpreter: "The Gestapo never searched the ghetto, they gave orders to Sawoniuk to search the ghetto."

The defence suggested the witness was making up the evidence or "repeating gossip", but Mr Zan shook his head and vigorously denied he had invented seeing Mr Sawoniuk.

"I didn't see the Gestapo searching (the Jewish ghetto), but as for Sawoniuk, I saw him."

But he added under questioning that he had not actually heard anyone give Sawoniuk the order to carry out searches.

'Fear of police'

He denied local people might have been among those searching the Jewish quarter, possibly hunting for clothes or shoes which were then in short supply.

"No people would have done something like that (search the ghetto). If you had, you would have not got out alive. They were all afraid of police catching them," Mr Zan said.

He recalled a number of German troops arriving in Domachevo shortly before the massacre of the Jews.

Some of these soldiers, part of what the defence called a "killing squad", spoke Polish as well as German.

Mr Zan said the Gestapo had surrounded the Jewish ghetto before the massacre and were helped by the local police force, which Mr Sawoniuk had joined voluntarily.

Nazi occupation

On Monday Zan described how he saw Mr Sawoniuk shoot dead 15 Jewish women with a sub-machinegun.

The defendant was in the Old Bailey to hear the evidence, and shook his head as Mr Zan spoke.

Mr Sawoniuk, 77, is charged with four specimen counts of murder alleged to have been committed when he was working as a policeman in Domachevo during its Nazi occupation.

The prosecution has not accused him of taking part in the massacre, but says he helped round up and kill some of those who escaped.

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