Russian group admits deportation was a crime

  • 2009-03-27
  • TBT staff

MOSCOW - The Russian human rights organization Memorial said that the massdeportation of Estonians in 1949 could be qualified as a crime against humanitybut not as an act of genocide, reported Interfax news agency.

"Attempts to interpret the 1949 deportation as genocide or a war crimeare legally unsound. At the same time, there are quite enough reasons to saythat, in terms of international law, the deportation was a crime againsthumanity," said Memorial in a statement marking the deportations.  

The organization said in its statement that the criminal case Estonianauthorities had opened against Arnold Meri, who has been accused of genocideagainst civilians during deportations of residents of the Hiiumaa Island to theNovosibirsk region in 1949 should not be charged of genocide by of crimesagainst humanity.

The trial of Arnold Meri, who took part in the deportation, in May 2008. Atthe trial in Kardla, Hiiumaa, Meri said after the charges were read out to himthat he pleaded not guilty of genocide.

Mart Reino, a judge at the Kardla courthouse of the Parnu County Court, satisfiedon May 20 defense lawyer Sven Sillar's application to suspend the trial for themedical examination of the defendant.

According to the statement of charges, 251 residents of the island ofHiiumaa were deported to Siberia under Meri's direction in March 1949.