Second Australian Charged Under New War Crimes Act
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Second Australian Charged Under New War Crimes Act

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A South Australia resident was formally charged in an Adelaide magistrates court with participating in the mass murder of Jews, mostly women and children, in the Ukrainian village of Gnivan in 1942.

The accused, Mikolay Berezowsky, is the second person to be charged under Australia’s amended war crimes act, which allows World War II war crimes suspects living in Australia to be tried by Australian courts.

The state claims that Berezowsky headed the village police, which participated in the systematic killing of Jews that was part of the Nazi program of genocide.

According to senior prosecutor Sydney Tilmouth, the Ukrainian police, known as the Schutzmannschaft, arrested the entire Jewish population of Gnivan and forcibly marched the 102 Jews to a pit in the woods outside of town.

An exhumation performed by Australian investigators uncovered the remains of the victims, who were each killed by single bullet wounds to the head or by skull fractures.

Forensic experts determined that 64 of the victims were women and 25 were under the age of 9 at the time of death.

The mass slaughter occurred in the spring or earlysummer of 1942, the prosecution says.

Prosecutors will present eye-witness evidence, documents from German archives and material taken from the defendant’s home to support their case.

The prosecution says it intends to prove that Berezowsky participated in the arrests of the Jewish villagers in full awareness that he was carrying out the genocidal policy of the German occupying forces.

Berezowsky’s trial could overlap that of Ivan Polyukhovich, another resident of Adelaide accused of complicity in the mass murder of 850 Jews in the Ukrainian village of Serniki during World War II.

Polyukhovich, the first Australian resident to be charged under the war crimes act, was arrested more than two years ago. He was ordered to stand trial by Magistrate Kelvyn Prescott earlier this month after the failure of his appeal to have the war crimes act invalidated.

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