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Thursday, 29 March, 2001, 14:50 GMT 15:50 UK
Lithuania pursues war crimes suspect
Anton Gecas
Anton Gecas now lives in Edinburgh
The Lithuanian Government has formally submitted a request for the extradition of a war crimes suspect living in Scotland.

A spokesman for the Lithuanian Embassy in London said his government had sent documents to the Home Office seeking the extradition of Anton Gecas, from Edinburgh.

Last month, a Lithuanian court granted a warrant for the arrest of the 85-year-old.

Mr Gecas was alleged to have taken part in the mass murder of Jews and other civilians in Lithuania when it was occupied by the Nazis during World War Two.

Anton Gecas
Mr Gecas has denied war crimes
He has consistently denied involvement in atrocities and earlier this month told a Sunday newspaper of his anger over what he called "false" accusations.

Under the extradition procedure, the request from Lithuania for Mr Gecas to be arrested goes to the Foreign Office first, and from there to the Scottish Executive.

Scottish ministers would then scrutinise the request to ensure it was valid and an arrest warrant would be issued by a sheriff.

This would lead to an arrest, which would then be followed by a sheriff court hearing which would assess issues such as the legal grounds for extradition.

The case would then go to Scottish ministers for a decision.

Trial demand

Both the sheriff court's ruling and the decision by ministers could be the subject of an appeal, which would be heard in Edinburgh.

Speaking after the arrest warrant was issued by the District Court in Vilnius in February, Mr Gecas' lawyer Nigel Duncan said: "He will resist any attempt to extradite him to Lithuania or anywhere else."

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.

The former mining engineer 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.

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See also:

04 Mar 01 | Scotland
Gecas protests his innocence
19 Feb 01 | Scotland
Legal battle looms in Gecas case
09 Jan 01 | Scotland
Backing for 'war crimes' extradition
10 Jan 00 | Scotland
Call to reopen Gecas case
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