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Lithuania Will Not Prosecute Man Accused of War Crimes

Lithuanian prosecutors have said they would not prosecute a Pennsylvania resident accused of war crimes.

They said there are insufficient grounds to prosecute Jonas Stelmokas, a former Lithuanian platoon commander accused of helping the Nazis massacre thousands of Jews.

A U.S. federal immigration judge has ordered the deportation of Stelmokas, 82, a retired architect.

Stelmokas is accused of participating in Nazi atrocities in the ghetto of Kaunas, Lithuania’s second largest city. He is also believed to have been a member of a battalion that murdered civilians, predominantly Jews, in both Belarus and Russia between 1941 and 1944.

Stelmokas, who had his U.S. citizenship revoked three years ago, denies that he participated in any wartime crimes.

Lithuania’s willingness to move against suspected war criminals living in their midst has long been questioned by Jewish officials.

Only one trial of a suspected war criminal has started in the Baltic region since the three Baltic nations — Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — gained their independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. That trial, of Aleksandras Lileikis, was adjourned a day after it began. Lileikis’ trial is scheduled to resume later this month.

Some 94 percent of Lithuania’s 240,000 Jews perished in the Holocaust.

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