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Ross McWilliam reports
"There is a theory that he may have been protected by the intelligence services"
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Tuesday, 10 April, 2001, 15:44 GMT 16:44 UK
War crimes suspect was 'protected'
Anthony Gecas
Mr Gecas denied the allegations at his Edinburgh home
A man wanted for war crimes in Lithuania may have been protected by Britain's intelligence community, despite it knowing about his alleged role in the mass killing of Jewish civilians during the Second World War, it is suggested in a BBC Scotland programme.

The allegation against Anthony Gecas, who lives in Edinburgh, is revealed in a Frontline Scotland programme to be broadcast on Tuesday.

The programme also believes the arrest of 85-year-old Gecas, who faces extradition to his former homeland, may take place soon.

Mr Gecas was a platoon commander with the 12th police battalion, which killed tens of thousands of Jewish civilians during the Second World War.


After the execution he used to check the pits and, with pistols, finish off anyone still alive

Juozas Alexsynas
Prosecution witness
Despite this he was given shelter in Britain after the war and has never faced prosecution.

There is a theory that he may have been protected by the intelligence services.

"It was, and it remains, a deep embarrassment to the government, to the civil servants, and to the intelligence agencies that they did recruit quite a number of these collaborators and war criminals," said Stephen Dorrill, author of MI6 Special Operations in Britain.

"And I think it's one reason why we have never had a sustained and systematic deportation or trials of these war criminals."

The Lithuanians want Mr Gecas to stand trial for war crimes.

Juozas Alexsynas
Juozas Alexsynas was a corporal in the battalion and is a central witness
Juozas Alexsynas was a corporal in the battalion and is a central witness in the prosecution case.

"He was in direct command of our platoon and he was our direct superior," Mr Alexsynas said.

"After the execution he used to check the pits and, with pistols, finish off anyone still alive."

At his home in Edinburgh Mr Gecas denied the allegations.

He said the role of the 12th battalion was "to beat Russians to pulp."

Seeking extradition

He denied killing Jewish civilians, saying "No, we had nothing against Jews."

The Lithuanian Government formally submitted a request at the end of March for the extradition of Mr Gecas.

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

A Lithuanian court has granted a warrant for the arrest of the 85-year-old.

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See also:

29 Mar 01 | Scotland
Lithuania pursues war crimes suspect
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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