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Doctors: Nazi-Era War Suspect Ill

January 22, 1999

VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) _ A court-appointed medical panel said Friday that a man accused of turning Jews over to a Nazi execution squad in Lithuania is too ill to stand trial on charges of genocide.

The panel was appointed after 91-year-old Kazys Gimzauskas failed to attend the opening of his trial this month. The court is not bound to accept the panel’s assessment, and it was unclear when a final ruling would be made.

Lithuania does not allow trials in absentia when defendants are ill.

The panel’s head doctor said the assessment was based on several examinations that found Gimzauskas in poor health.

``We have inspected the old man a hundred times now, and we do not have any doubt that he cannot stand the trial,″ Antanas Garmus told reporters. He did not give details about what conditions Gimzauskas suffers from, although previous reports have said he has some form of cardiovascular disease.

After becoming independent in 1991, Lithuania vowed to bring alleged Nazi-era war criminals to trial. But the process has been slow.

The country’s first Nazi war crimes trial was to begin in September but has been postponed repeatedly because lawyers for the defendant, Aleksandras Lileikis, claim he is too ill.

Some Jewish groups have angrily contended that Lithuania has dragged out the process, hoping the defendants would die before they could be tried.

An estimated 90 percent of Lithuania’s 240,000 Jews died during World War II.

Lileikis was the head of Vilnius’ security police during Germany’s 1941-44 occupation, and Gimzauskas was his deputy. Both are alleged to have turned over scores of Jews to a Nazi squad that conducted executions in the woods just outside the capital.

Gimzauskas emigrated to the United States and worked as a machinist in St. Petersburg, Fla. He returned to Lithuania in 1993 as the United States was moving to revoke his citizenship for lying about his past.

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