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January 3, 2006

Wiesenthal Center: Estonian Investigation of Suspected Nazi War Criminal - A Pathetic Political Whitewash

The Simon Wiesenthal Center rejected the findings of the Estonian government's investigation into World War II activities of suspected Nazi war criminal Harry Mannil, which cleared the resident of Caracas, Venezuela, of any criminal responsibility and closed his file. Years ago, the Center identified Mannil as a member of the Estonian Political Police, who actively participated in the persecution and murder of civilians in the Estonian capital in 1941, and has been trying to facilitate his prosecution ever since he was discovered living in Venezuela in the wake of the investigation in 1992 of his superior, Evald Mikson.

In a statement issued today in Jerusalem, the Center's chief Nazi-hunter, Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, reiterated that Mannil should be held accountable for his role in the fate of Estonian civilians, persecuted and murdered by the Nazis and their Estonian collaborators. The Center also termed, "absolutely outrageous," media reports that Estonian state prosecutor, Heino Tonismagi, accused the Wiesenthal Center of purposely targeting Mannil (a multimillionaire philanthropist) because he was one of the most outstanding Estonians, and absolved WWII Estonian authorities of any crimes since the country was occupied at the time!

Zuroff labeled the Estonian investigation of Mannil a pathetic whitewash for political reasons of an active Nazi collaborator and noted that the prosecutor's totally baseless accusation that Mannil was purposely targeted by the Wiesenthal Center is the best proof that Estonia lacked the political will to prosecute a prominent Estonian. "Mannil is currently barred from entering the United States due to his wartime activities. It is obvious that Estonia, which has hereto failed to convict a single local Nazi war criminal since it regained its independence, still lacks the political courage to face the practical implications of the active complicity of its nationals in Holocaust crimes," said Zuroff.

For more information call 00-972-50-7214156 / www.operationlastchance.org