Aleksandras Likeikis, the former head of the Nazi-sponsored Lithuanian security police who was recently deported to Lithuania, says he returned to Lithuania to seek justice.
“If I felt guilty, I wouldn’t have returned to Lithuania,” Lilekis reportedly told journalists in his first public statement.
Lileikis has not been charged in Lithuania, though he is under investigation.
Lileikis, who is in his late 80s, was denaturalized last month by a U.S. federal court in Boston. He arrived June 18 in Vilnius, the city in which he had served during World War II.
On May 24, he was stripped of his citizenship after the court found that his activities as head of the Lithuanian security police, known as the Saugumas, “clearly constitute” personal participation in persecution.
He was interrogated by Lithuanian authorities last week, but the questioning lasted only about two hours because of Lileikis’ apparent poor health, Lithuanian prosecutor Gintautas Starkus told journalists.
Starkus said the investigation would continue in July.
According to the June 21 edition of the Vilnius newspaper Lietuvos Rytas, when asked whether the charges against him are well-founded, Lileikis said: “I didn’t say they weren’t well-founded, but I said that they have been inflated to the maximum. They’ve made a mountain out of a molehill.”
Eli Rosenbaum, director of the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, said in a telephone interview Monday from Washington that he was surprised by Lileikis’ comments.
“To term the signing of death warrants for innocent civilians, including that of a 6-year-old, a `molehill’ is truly obscene,” Rosenbaum said.
Rosenbaum added, “It shows that Lileikis has not changed since the war.”
Lileikis immigrated to the United States in 1955 and became a citizen in 1976.
From August 1941 to July 1944, he headed the Saugumas, whose officers arrested Jews who attempted to escape from the ghetto in Vilnius.
The Jews were taken to an isolated site, stripped of their clothing and gunned down in sand pits by a group of volunteers known as the “special detachment.”
Some 55,000 of Vilnius’ 60,000 Jews perished during the war.
Rosenbaum said Lithuania might turn to the United States for additional assistance in prosecuting Lileikis.
Rosenbaum added that in response to a request, Lithuanian received documentary evidence in the Lileikis case from the United States.