ST. PAUL, Minn., Aug. 1 (UPI) -- German prosecutors have dropped a Nazi war crimes investigation of a 96-year-old Minnesota resident who allegedly was a commander of an SS-led unit during World War II.
Michale Karkoc, who now has Alzheimer's disease, is not fit to stand trial, prosecutors said. The investigation began after the Associated Press published a story in 2013 that claimed Karkoc once commanded a unit for the Ukrainian Self Defense Legion that burned villages of women and children during the war. He then came to the United States illegally, the investigation alleged.
In 2013, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Los Angeles-based Jewish human rights organization, called on the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the case.
"The fact that Karkoc was, in addition, a member of the Galician SS should, in itself, be sufficient reason to begin an investigation. That he is 94 years old should have no bearing on the fact that he has never answered for the crimes he is suspected of committing," the center said at the time.
Karkoc's family denies any wrongdoing. His son Andriy Karkoc said his family continues to be distressed because there's little they can do.
"We can't exonerate him," Andriy Karkoc said. "And he can no longer defend himself."
In July, Oskar Groening, dubbed "the bookkeeper of Auschwitz," was convicted of being an accessory to murders at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland during World War II. He was sentenced to four years in prison for his role in 300,000 counts of murder.