September 21, 2003 – The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi-hunter Dr. Efraim Zuroff has conducted a series of meetings with Austrian Justice Minister Dietrich Bohmdorfer and leading prosecutors in Romania and Poland in order to expedite the investigation and prosecution of Nazi war criminals in those countries. In a statement issued today in Jerusalem to mark the conclusion of the launching of the second phase of the Center’s “Operation: Last Chance” program which offers financial rewards to informants who submit evidence or information which leads to the prosecution and punishment of Holocaust perpetrators, the Center noted the necessity of granting such investigations priority and expediting the cases which can be prosecuted. The project, which has the generous support of the “Targum Shlishi” Foundation, of Miami was initially launched in the Baltics, where it has already led to the opening of three murder investigations in Lithuania.
During the past ten days Dr. Zuroff met personally with Austrian Justice Minister Dietrich Bohmdorfer, Romanian Prosecutor-General Dr. Ilie Botos, and Prof. Dr. Leon Kieres, director of the Institute of National Memory, which is responsible for the prosecution of Holocaust crimes in Poland, and urged these officials to give highest priority to the cases of Nazi war criminals.
According to Zuroff:
“Given the fact that those who committed the crimes of the Holocaust can only be prosecuted for another few years, it is particularly important that those countries with such suspects give these cases the highest possible priority. This problem is particularly acute in Austria, where despite the existence of numerous suspects, not a single Nazi war criminal has been convicted in over thirty years, and in Romania, which has failed to initiate a single investigation of a Holocaust perpetrator since it became a democracy, despite the active participation of numerous Romanians in the implementation of the Final Solution.”
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