TALLINN - Efraim Zuroff, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, decried the investigation of Nazi crimes in Estonia as a total failure in the center's latest report. The report places Estonia one rank lower than last year, among the so-called "failure countries." Previously, the Baltic state was listed as a country with "minimal readiness for cooperation" in the investigation of Nazi crimes.
In particular, the center specifies two names 's Venezuelan resident Harry Mannil and of Mikhail Gorshkov, who moved back to Estonia from the United States in 2002. Both are listed among the center's "10 most outstanding cases." The Wiesenthal Center continues to accuse Mannil of participation in the arrests of Jews and communists during the Nazi occupation of Estonia, despite the fact that a five-year investigation has not shown Mannil's guilt.
The security police and the Public Prosecutor's Office closed an investigation into Mannil's case at the end of last year, saying that, while they found proof that he interrogated Jews as a member of the political police, nothing showed him as having taken part in crimes against humanity.
Gorshkov is being investigated for his role in the 1943 liquidation of 3,000 Jews in Belarus' Slutzk ghetto. Earlier this year, Prosecutor Norman Aas said he could offer no forecast as to when the case could be brought to court.
Reports by the Simon Wiesenthal Center divide countries into five categories based on their readiness to prosecute alleged Nazi war criminals.
The A rank is awarded to the United States as a country which has very successfully exposed Nazi criminals. Group B, whose members have taken the necessary measures to prosecute Nazi criminals and have also achieved success, includes Croatia, Lithuania and Italy. Countries ranked as C, said to have little success in prosecuting Nazi criminals, are Australia, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Latvia and Poland. The ranking goes on until the last category, F, which includes Austria, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway, Romania, Sweden, Syria and Ukraine.
Ranked in a separate category, called X, are countries which have provided the center with no data and which have displayed no readiness to investigate Nazi crimes 'sArgentina, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, the Czech Republic, Greece, Luxembourg, Paraguay, Russia, Uruguay, Venezuela and Yugoslavia.
Lithuania has been ranked by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in both B and F, showing respectively "prosecution" and "political will." In March, a district court in Vilnius found 85-year-old Algimantas Mykolas Dailide guilty of participating in crimes against Jews during World War II. The court, however, didn't sentence him to prison, citing the defendant's age and poor health.