AMSTERDAM (Apr. 4)
Pieter Menten, the 77-year-old Dutch millionaire art collector who has been accused of murdering Jews and others in Poland during World War II, was officially indicted by a special tribunal today of “crimes against humanity.”
Menten, who was extradited from Switzerland where he fled shortly before he was scheduled to be arrested, had to be indicted today because of a Dutch law that says no one can be detained for more than 102 days without a charge. His trial will be held May 6 to give both the prosecution and defense time to prepare for what is expected to be a complicated trial.
Menten was charged with the murder of Polish citizens, mostly Jews in the Lemberg area in 1941, specifically in Podhorodoce on July 7 and Uryce August 27. The area is now part of the Soviet Union and Dutch officials recently interviewed witnesses there.
It is also charged that Menten rounded up victims for the mass executions through gifts or promises, by abusing his power or by providing information that led to the victims being seized for execution. Menten is also charged with being a Dutch citizen in the service of the enemy.
Louis Van Heynigen, Menten’s new lawyer, announced that he will call 60 witnesses to be heard by the examining magistrate before the start of the actual trial. Van Heynigen told the hearing today that he believed Menten was innocent and that the charges against him had already passed the statute of limitations. Menten said all the evidence against him should be thrown out because it had been given under coercion or by Soviet KGB agents.