September 2, 2003 – The Simon Wiesenthal Center today releases summary statistics on the results achieved in the framework of “Operation: Last Chance” during its initial year of operation. According to the Center’s Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, who coordinates the project which was carried out in conjunction with the Targum Shlishi Foundation of Miami headed by Aryeh Rubin, the Center received the names of a total of 241 suspects – 184 from Lithuania, 38 from Latvia, 13 from the Ukraine, and 6 from Estonia during its initial year of operation which ended in mid-July 2003.
During the past year, the information was evaluated by the Center, and the names of 55 individuals were submitted to prosecution agencies in Lithuania (32); the United States (13) and Latvia (10). To date, three official murder investigations regarding approximately two dozen suspects have been opened by local prosecutors in Lithuania and additional investigations are likely to be initiated during the coming month in Lithuania and other countries. Zuroff pointed out that the names of additional Lithuanian suspects have been received by the Center during the past few weeks.
According to Zuroff:
“The amount and quality of the information hereto received in the framework of “Operation: Last Chance” is the best proof of the necessity of such a project and its historic significance. In fact, the results achieved in the Baltics have convinced the Center to expand “Operation: Last Chance” to additional countries during the coming months, with Poland, Romania and Austria, the first countries slated for expansion in mid-September 2003.
“We again call upon the public to come forward with any information known to them regarding unprosecuted Nazi war criminals currently alive anywhere in the world.”
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