MOSCOW (Feb. 24)
A date has been set for the war crimes trial of a Lithuanian accused of being a Nazi collaborator.
Aleksandras Lileikis, 91, will go on trial March 4. Lileikis is suspected of having handed Jews over to Nazi death squads during World War II, when he was a deputy head of the Nazi-sponsored Lithuanian security police.
During the Nazi occupation of Lithuania from 1941 to 1944, approximately 94 percent of Lithuania’s prewar Jewish community of 240,000 died in the Holocaust.
Historians say the scale of the tragedy could have been smaller had ordinary Lithuanians not helped with the killings.
The Lileikis case will be the first trial for Holocaust crimes in any of the three Baltic states since they gained their independence from the Soviet Union seven years ago.
Lileikis is expected to be tried in absentia. Earlier this year, he reportedly had a stroke, and Lithuanian officials said it would be difficult for him to attend court sessions.
Last year, Lithuania changed its laws to allow for the prosecution of suspected war criminals regardless of their state of health.
According to Lithuania’s criminal code, the penalty for genocide is five to 15 years in prison with confiscation of property. In some cases, a life sentence may be imposed.
But prosecutors say it is unlikely that Lileikis would receive a life sentence because of his poor health.