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March 21, 2001

WIESENTHAL CENTER CALLS UPON ESTONIA TO LAUNCH INVESTIGATION OF SUSPECTED NAZI MURDERER LIVING IN VENEZUELA

The Simon Wiesenthal Center called upon the Estonian government to launch a full-scale investigation into the World War II activities of Venezuelan industrialist Harry Mannil who served in the Estonian Political Police in Tallinn. He is suspected of actively participating in the persecution and murder of at least one hundred civilians, primarily Jews and Communists.

In a letter to Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar, the Center's Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff (who earlier this week asked the Venezuelan government for its assistance on this case since Mannil is currently residing in Caracas) noted that there is substantial evidence documenting Mannil's crimes and urged the Estonian leader to ensure that the local judicial authorities undertake a full and comprehensive investigation of the case.

Zuroff also reminded the Estonian Prime Minister that in a previous meeting between them, Laar had expressed a firm commitment to bring the perpetrators of crimes against humanity in Estonia to justice.

"You no doubt recall that during our meeting in your office you clearly indicated your unequivocal support for the prosecution of those who committed crimes against humanity in Estonia," said Zuroff. "In that context, I am writing to you to urge your government to carry out a full investigation of the activities of Mr. Harry Mannil, who served as a member of the Estonian Political Police in Tallinn during World War II and was actively involved in the persecution and murder of innocent civilians. Many years have passed since Harry Mannil committed his crimes, but the passage of time in no way diminishes the horror of those atrocities or the culpability of the perpetrator. We therefore call upon you, as a person who is committed to justice and historical truth, to take whatever steps are necessary, to see to it that his case is fully investigated and that justice is finally achieved," he concluded.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with a membership of over 400,000 families in the United States. It preserves the memory of the Holocaust through community programs, outreach and social action. The Center is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, and the OSCE.

For more information, contact the Wiesenthal Center's Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036.