Alleged Lithuanian collaborator denies he killed Jews during war

MOSCOW, June 9 (JTA) — An 81-year-old man deported from the United States for his World War II-era activities told prosecutors in his native Lithuania this week that he had not killed any Jews during the war. But in a meeting with Lithuanian prosecutors in the capital Vilnius, Kazys Ciurinskas did not deny collaboration with the Nazis, who occupied the Baltic country during the war. Ciurinskas was stripped of his U.S. citizenship in 1997 for concealing his role in a Nazi-sponsored unit responsible for the mass killings of Jews when he applied in 1949 for a visa to enter the United States. He returned to Lithuania last month. According to the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, Ciurinskas led a battalion that was involved in the mass killings of Jews. The Lithuanian Prosecutor General’s Office says it has been collecting information on Ciurinskas for two years, but has insufficient evidence to launch criminal proceedings against him. Ciurinskas is the second suspected Nazi wartime criminal who returned to the Baltic state last month. Another suspect, Aloyzas Balsys, returned to Lithuania rather than testify about his wartime activities. The fight by Balsys, 86, to stay in the United States without testifying resulted last year in a landmark Supreme Court decision that fear of prosecution abroad is insufficient grounds to invoke the Fifth Amendment’s protection from self-incrimination.

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