War Crimes Probe Cancelled

The Austrian State Prosecutor has cancelled investigations of right-wing Freedom Party leader Friedrich Peter for alleged war crimes. The prosecutor’s office said no evidence was found for charges made by Simon Wiesenthal, head of the Vienna Jewish Documentation Center of criminal acts committed by Peter during World War II.

Wiesenthal charged last fall that Peter was a member of a Nazi Waffen SS unit in 1942 which killed thousands of Jews in the Soviet Union. Wiesenthal said he had no conclusive evidence that Peter was personally involved in any of these crimes, “but it was very unlikely he should not have taken part.”

The charges created a stir in Austrian domestic politics when Chancellor Bruno Kreisky rushed to the defense of Peter and attacked Wiesenthal for making “unqualified charges.” The prosecutor’s office said a review of the evidence presented by Wiesenthal and further investigations yielded no evidence of war crimes committed by Peter.

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