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Prosecutors Suffer a Setback in Australian War Crimes Trial

Australian war crimes prosecutors were denied their request to take testimony in Ukraine from two elderly women who were to be witnesses in the case against alleged Nazi collaborator Mikolay Berezowsky.

Berezowsky is charged with being involved in the murder in 1942 of 102 Jews near the village of Gnivan, Ukraine, where he was the head of the local police unit recruited by the German occupation forces.

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 prosecution had argued that the two Ukrainian women, who are too ill to travel to Australia, are vital to the case against Berezowsky. But after several days of consideration, Magistrate David Gurry said in a written statement that it was “neither necessary nor expedient” to grant the application.

He said the trip to Ukraine would delay the hearing by at least six weeks and that because of the defendant’s poor health, he would not be able to come face-to-face with his accusers.

Witnesses who came to Australia from Ukraine have testified that Berezowsky had worked alongside Nazi SS soldiers.

Several witnesses spoke of seeing the covered pit in which the murdered Jews had been buried.

The prosecution has also presented evidence identifying Berezowsky as a Ukrainian policeman in 1942 and a resident of Germany in 1945.

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