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Australian War Crimes Trial in Doubt After Suicide Attempts

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Prospects have dimmed considerably that Australia’s first Nazi war crimes suspect will stand trial because of his apparent suicidal tendencies, government sources indicated this week.

The trial, which was to have opened July 30, has been rescheduled to Aug. 27.

But Magistrate Peter Kelly has ordered the mental and physical condition of Ivan Polyukhovich, 74, to be constantly monitored to determine his fitness to stand trial. He continues to receive medical treatment as a condition of his bail.

Polyukhovich, the first person charged under Australia’s new war crimes legislation, was found with a bullet wound in his chest in a suburban street in Adelaide, South Australia, on July 29, the night before he was to appear in court for his first hearing.

Government sources have since confirmed the widespread suspicion that the wound was self-inflicted.

According to the prosecuting attorney, Greg James, police investigators determined there had been no attempt to murder Polyukhovich, nor is his life threatened from outside sources.

James revealed, however, that the accused twice tried to remove life-support equipment, including intravenous tubes, while convalescing in an Adelaide hospital.

Polyukhovich is charged with 25 counts of murder during World War II and with being knowingly concerned with the deaths of 850 other people, including not fewer than 533 Jews in the Nazi-occupied Ukraine.

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