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Trial of Suspected Latvian Nazi Who Fled U.S. Begins in Germany

An accused Nazi war criminal who eluded a death sentence in the Soviet Union and evaded deportation from the United States is finally facing justice in West Germany.

The trial of 86-year-old Boleslavs Maikovskis, which opened last Thursday in the northwestern city of Munster, culminates 25 years of legal proceedings and intensive manhunts in both the Soviet Union and the United States.

According to the prosecution, the accused Nazi collaborator coordinated the mass shooting in 1942 of at least 170 people in the village of Audrini, which he burned to the ground. Afterward, he ordered the hanging of a Jewish resident and made sure it was done, the prosecution said.

Maikovskis was police chief in the adjacent town of Rezekne during the German occupation of Latvia.

Klaus Schacht, chief of the Dortmund-based office for the prosecution of Nazi war criminals, who is in charge of the case, said Maikovskis’ recent indictment is only a partial accounting of the atrocities he is said to have committed.

Additional charges are being prepared that implicate him in the murders of hundreds more people in Latvia.

Maikovskis was sentenced in absentia to death by a Soviet court in Riga in 1965, after he was found guilty of assisting in the murder of 20,000 Latvian Jews.

He lived in the Hamburg area of West Germany after World War II, before coming to the United States as an immigrant in 1951.

WAS A CARPENTER ON LONE ISLAND

Until sometime in 1987, Maikovskis lived in the Long Island town of Mineola, N.Y., where he worked as a carpenter and became a respected figure in Latvian groups. He was the leader of several emitter associations and active in the Catholic Church.

Maikovskis’ wartime superior, Albert Eichelis, was tried in West Germany in 1984.

Some time afterward, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service initiated deportation proceedings on the grounds that Maikovskis lied about his past when he applied for entry into the United States.

The INS intended to deport him to the Soviet Union, where his alleged crimes were committed.

But Maikovskis slipped out of the country in 1987, entered West Germany as a tourist and applied for political asylum. He was arrested in Munster in October 1988 and has been in custody since then.

His trial is expected to last at least a year and may require the judges to visit Israel and the Soviet Union, where some of the elderly witnesses live.

Two American survivors of the Riga ghetto, Elliot Welles and Herman Securing, arc attending the trial as observers, at the invitation of the Justice Ministry in Bonn.

In New York, Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, said an ADL delegation met with the West German justice minister last month and was told the Federal Republic “would welcome” a Jewish presence at the trial.

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