Accused Nazi Returns to Native Lithuania
BOSTON (AP) _ A man who lost his U.S. citizenship after being accused of running a Nazi secret police unit in his native Lithuania has left Massachusetts for Lithuania, the Justice Department said today.
Aleksandras Lileikis allegedly signed death orders for a number of Jewish men, women and children who were shot in the Paneriai woods near Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital.
Lileikis, an 88-year-old retired machinist, was stripped of his U.S. citizenship by a federal judge last month. He turned in his passport Tuesday, Boston U.S. attorney Donald Stern said.
Federal prosecutors said Lileikis, who had lived in Norwood, illegally obtained U.S. citizenship after coming here in 1955 by hiding his involvement in the Holocaust. He faces possible prosecution in Poland, Lithuania and Israel, Eli Rosenbaum, head of the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, said.
Lithuania’s chief prosecutor has said that no decision has been made on whether Lileikis will be charged there. The U.S. government has provided Lithuania with its evidence against Lileikis.
The United States cannot bring criminal charges for war crimes committed abroad, but can seek to revoke citizenship.
At a hearing on Lileikis’ citizenship last year, William H. Kenety of the special investigations office presented photocopies of ``death cards″ _ including two ordering the deaths of a mother and child _ recovered from the Lithuanian Central State Archives. The documents bear Lileikis’ signature, which was verified by handwriting experts, Kenety said.
Lileikis has refused to answer questions about his wartime activities, but at one point said the documents were forgeries. His lawyer argued that Lileikis was simply following the orders of his German superiors in signing the death warrants.
An estimated 40,000 Jews are believed to have been killed in Vilnius between 1941 and 1944. Vilnius had an estimated 60,000 Jews when the Nazis took over, and fewer than 5,000 when the Soviets took the city. Some were sent to Auschwitz and other death camps in Poland near the end of the war.
``He played a role in the destruction of one of the three premier Jewish communities in the world before World War II,″ Rosenbaum said of Lileikis.