Lithuania drops war crimes case

  • 2008-09-25
  • In cooperation with BNS

After leaving Lithuania, Arad worked as the director of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Israel (Photo by David Shankbone).

VILNIUS 's The LithuanianProsecutor General's Office has officially dropped the investigation into warcrimes allegedly committed by Yitzhak Arad, a Soviet partisan with Jewishheritage.

"In connection with the lack of collected evidence to prove initialallegations, the Prosecutor General's Office discontinued, in a pretrialinvestigation… on crimes committed during the years of WWII by the 'Vilnius'soviet partisan unit, the section regarding Yitzhak Arad," read a press releasefrom the Prosecutor General's Office.

Arad was suspected of partakingin criminal activities, crimes against humanity and Lithuanian inhabitants 's including killing civilians, prisoners ofwar, and Lithuanian partisans 'sduring the years of WWII in Nazi-occupied Lithuaniaand during his service in the Soviet secret service in the post-war period.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community has said that the decision to drop the casewas a welcome one, but that it should have been made earlier.

"I see the dismissal of the investigation in a positive light, however, Ifind it was belated. They first roused world-wide indignation, were met withmassive protests - the investigation could have been cut short earlier," Chairmanof the Lithuanian Jewish CommunitySimonas Alperavicius told the Baltic News Service on Thursday.

"It is good that there was strength and political will to close the case -he is a truly prominent personality on the international arena. There was noevidence - it is like a counterbalance to the Holocaust and efforts to showthat Jews are bad," Alperavicius said.

After Germanyinvaded Lithuaniain 1941, Arad joined a Sovietpartisan platoon and later served in the Soviet repressive NKVD. After the war,he went to Israeland joined the army there.

In 1972, he retired being an education corps commander. As a civilian, Aradbecame a scholar and a lecturer of Jewish history, specializing in theHolocaust.

Almost 90 percent of Lithuania's pre-war Jewishcommunity of about 200,000 people perished during the Nazi rule.