VILNIUS - The Vilnius District Court opened a hearing on March 20 against Algimantas Mykolas Dailide, who is suspected of participating in crimes against Jews in Nazi-occupied Lithuania. Dailide, 85, has pleaded not guilty.
The Lithuanian citizen is accused of violating Article 100 of the Criminal Code, which covers the mistreatment of people prohibited by international law. The crime carries a sentence of anywhere from five years to life in prison.
In 2003, Dailide was deported from the United States after it was established that he had arrested Jewish men, women and children attempting to escape from the Jewish ghetto in Nazi-occupied Vilnius. Dailide was sent to Germany, where he currently resides with his family.
Under Lithuanian law, a case cannot be heard without the suspect's presence. The defendant travelled all the way from Germany to attend his hearing.
In November, 2005, the Prosecutor General's Office handed the case over to the Vilnius District Court.
The office said it had information proving Dailide's collaboration with the Nazi regime, and that he had carried out police instructions to persecute civilians of Jewish nationality.
In 1941-1944 Dailide worked for the Vilnius district office of Lithuania's Security Police, a puppet structure controlled by the Nazis.
The prosecutor's indictment lists 15 persons who were persecuted for ethnic or political reasons and were deprived of freedom due to Dailide's alleged actions.
The defendant was earlier questioned in Vilnius, after which he received bail of 10,000 litas (2,900 euros).
When living in the United States, Dailide worked as a real estate agent in Florida. Upon arriving in the U.S.A. in 1950, the Lithuanian told immigration authorities he had worked as a forester during the war. After his role in the Holocaust came to light, an Ohio court revoked his U.S. citizenship in 1997.
But Dailide is not the first Lithuanian immigrant to be deprived of U.S. citizenship and charged for war crimes. In 1996, the U.S. Department of Justice's special investigation unit revoked the citizenship of Aleksandras Lileikis, former head of Vilnius' Security Police Office.
After he arrived in Lithuania, Lileikis' case went to trial. However, the man died in 2000, shortly after he was excused from attending court hearings due to illness.
Lileikis' war-time deputy, Kazimieras Gimzauskas, returned to Lithuania in 1994 and lost his U.S. citizenship two years later. In February 2001, a Vilnius court found him guilty of war crimes but did not impose a punishment after a medical panel said he could neither understand nor answer for his actions because of his deteriorating health. Gimzauskas died shortly after the verdict.
Adolfas Milius, like Dailide, arrested civilian Jews, lost his U.S. citizenship in 1998. Milius moved from the United States to Lithuania and died here in 1999.
Approximately 90 percent of Lithuania's pre-war Jewish population of 220,000 perished during Nazi rule in World War II.