Son of 98-year-old accused of WWII war crimes speaks out
MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - The son of a 98-year-old Minneapolis man accused of being an ally to the Nazis in Poland is condemning the claims against his father.
This week, a Polish court issued an arrest warrant for Michael Karkoc that allows for Poland to seek his extradition.
Michael Karkoc's son, Andrij called upon Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken to intervene in what he calls "baseless attacks on a 98-year-old man."
But a Nazi hunter says the evidence is there.
“We talk a lot about fake news today, but this is fake history,” said Andrij Karkoc at a press conference on Saturday.
Andrij Karkoc denounced the evidence Polish prosecutors say “100 percent” confirms his father was a Nazi collaborator. He says the evidence was concocted by the Russian KGB.
“How is it possible after 75 years of nothing, you've decided that you've finally found conclusive proof of guilt?” said Andrij.
Four years ago, the Associated Press identified Karkoc as the commander of an SS-led unit that killed 44 people in Polish villages.
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Andrij doesn't deny his father's service, Karkoc wrote a memoir about serving in the Ukrainian Self Defense Legion.
But he claims his father had nothing to do with the unit's alleged war crimes,
“The Associated Press and KGB may provide something they say is proof. But what they cannot provide is something that is true,” said Andrij.
Prosecutors from Poland's Institute of National Remembrance point to new evidence - handwriting - that ties him to carrying out the deadly order.
But his son isn't convinced.
“They compared signatures. Ok. What's the evidence?” said Andrij.
Nazi hunter Efrain Zuroff with the Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem says this response isn't surprising.
“Wants to convince the public this is a futile endeavor and this is something in a certain sense that is being cruel to an elderly person,” said Zuroff.
Family members say Karkoc has Alzheimer's.
But Zuroff says he's hopeful he will be held accountable.
“The passage of time doesn't turn a murderer into a righteous Gentile,” said Zuroff. “If he's healthy enough mentally and physically to stand trial, he should. If he's not, he won't.”
Andrij says he also plans to send information on the case to the Department of Justice and to Secretary Rex Tillerson to intervene.
Minnesota's U.S. Attorney’s Office has yet to comment on the case.