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BBC Scotland's Isabel Fraser reports
"The Lithuanian authorities say new evidence has emerged"
 real 56k

Lord Janner, parliamentary war crimes group
"This won't end until the people concerned are prosecuted, they die or there is not sufficient evidence to proceed"
 real 28k

Bob Tomlinson, STV reporter
"I think the extradition issue is a very important one"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 9 January, 2001, 22:56 GMT
Backing for 'war crimes' extradition
Photographers at Gecas home
Photographers gather outside Mr Gecas' home
The Lithuanian Government's decision to seek the extradition of a war crimes suspect living in Scotland has been welcomed by campaigners for Holocaust victims.

Dr Efraim Zuroff, director of the Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem, said it had been seeking the extradition of Anton Gecas for 14 years.

However, he voiced concern that the announcement would give 85-year-old Mr Gecas, who lives in Edinburgh, advanced warning and would allow him more time to prepare his case.

Mr Gecas has not commented on confirmation from Lithuanian prosecutors that an application would be made for his enforced return to the country.


The announcement is a bit strange because why would the government let Gecas know that such a step is imminent?

Dr Efraim Zuroff, Wiesenthal Centre
He was alleged to have taken part in the mass murder of Jews in the country when it was occupied by the Nazis during World War Two.

Last February the Wiesenthal Centre, famous for its work hunting the perpetrators of the Holocaust, sent a file on Mr Gecas to the Lithuanian Government and demanded that he be put on trial.

Dr Zuroff said: "We are very pleased that Lithuania intends to seek his extradition but I am a bit concerned that Gecas might run away.

"There is nothing to stop him from running away.

Anton Gecas at court
Anton Gecas lost a libel action
"The announcement is a bit strange because why would the government let Gecas know that such a step is imminent?"

However, Dr Zuroff, who remained "hopeful" that extradition would proceed, said: "I have been working on this case for 14 years and I cannot think of a happier event than to go to Vilnius (the Lithuanian capital) and see Gecas in a courtroom."

Rimvydas Valentukevicius, head of the department of Special Investigations in the Lithuanian Prosecutor General's office, said he could not speculate on exactly when an approach to the Home Office asking for extradition would be made.

He added that the country's archive service would be asked to provide more information on the charges.

War crimes group

Mr Gecas's wife Astrid, speaking at their home, said the former mining engineer had no comment to make.

The Crown Office said it had yet to receive a formal request for extradition, while the Home Office said it could not confirm or deny the details of any request received from other states.

The moves by Lithuania were also welcomed by Lord Janner, secretary of the parliamentary all-party war crimes group, who said he would be "surprised" if Mr Gecas was not extradited.

Lord Janner
Lord Janner: Growing amount of evidence
He said: "What's happened now is that the Lithuanians have said we have got new evidence.

"And on this evidence added to the evidence we had before, we consider that there is sufficient to warrant prosecuting this man and we are going to ask for him to be extradited."

Mr Gecas lost a libel action in 1992 against Scottish Television after it alleged that he had led atrocities against Jews in his native country and Belarus as the alleged head of a special police battalion.

Lord Milligan, at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, said in his judgement that he was "clearly satisfied" Mr Gecas had taken part in a number of killings and "committed war crimes against innocent civilians".

Lord Milligan said it had been proved that Mr Gecas was a platoon commander of the 12th Auxiliary Police Services Battalion.

The allegations were investigated by Scottish prosecution authorities, but no action was taken against Mr Gecas.

A Crown Office spokeswoman said: "At the close of those inquiries a decision was taken that proceedings could not be taken on the evidence available at that time," she said. "The case does remain open."

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See also:

10 Jan 00 | Scotland
Call to reopen Gecas case
09 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
Nazi suspect denies murders
06 Jan 00 | UK Politics
Kalejs expected to leave Britain
06 Jan 00 | UK Politics
Straw defends 'Nazi' decision
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