He Was One of the Bloodiest Murderers of the 20th Century; NAZI HUNTER BID TO NAIL GECAS

Article excerpt

A LEADING war crimes investigator last night called for a Nazi now living in Scotland to be prosecuted.

Anton Gecas was exposed a decade ago as a death squad officer involved in the execution of thousands of Jews during World War II.

And last night Dr David Cesarani, the former principal researcher to the Parliamentary War Crimes Group, told the Mirror: "Anton Gecas is a mass murderer and there is absolutely no doubt about his participation in crimes of mass extermination.

"For years it has been a source of frustration to me that he escaped prosecution."

Dr Cesarani was speaking after international Nazi hunter organisation, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, revealed yesterday that it is to push for the Home Office to strip Gecas of his British citizenship and deport him on the grounds he falsified documents.

MSP Roseanna Cunningham, the SNP's justice spokesman, also intends to raise the matter in the Scottish Parliament today.

Lithuanian Gecas, 83, who lives in Edinburgh, entered Britain from Italy in 1947 and spent the rest of his working life as an engineer in Lothian coal mines.

A TV documentary claimed that while in Lithuania, and later in Belarus, he was part of the notorious death squad which forced its victims to dig their own graves before they were shot.

In 1992, Gecas brought a pounds 600,000 libel case against STV in an attempt to clear his name.

The case made legal history when judge Lord Milligan went to Lithuania to hear evidence.

But the case was later thrown out of court, with the judge telling Gecas: "I am clearly satisfied on the evidence as a whole that you participated in many operations involving the killing of innocent Soviet citizens including Jews."

Last night Dr Cesarani told the Mirror: "It has always been a mystery to me and many people who researched his case why he never ended up being prosecuted.

"But the work by the Scottish war crimes unit was hampered constantly by a variety of things.

"There were the law lords of the time who spoke vociferously against the War Crimes Act and then there was the fact that up to 12 witnesses who could have been used against Gecas never were because they live in England and the Crown Prosecution Service refused to give them immunity from prosecution. …