Nazi war criminal Anthony Sawoniuk dies in UK jail

7th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

7 November 2005, LONDON - The only man to have been convicted in Britain of Nazi war crimes has died in prison, aged 84, the Home Office in London said Monday.

7 November 2005

LONDON - The only man to have been convicted in Britain of Nazi war crimes has died in prison, aged 84, the Home Office in London said Monday.

Anthony Sawoniuk, who came to Britain in the guise of a Polish patriot in 1946, was serving two life sentences after being found guilty of murdering 18 Jews in his home town of Domachevo, in Belarus, four years previously.

After more than 50 years as a free man, the former British Rail ticket collector was found guilty in 1999 at a trial at the Old Bailey Criminal Court in London, the first and only Nazi war crimes trial in Britain.

He lost an appeal against his conviction in 2000.

Police said Sawoniuk was believed to have died of natural causes and his death was not being treated as suspicious.

Sawoniuk sealed his own fate with a letter written in the early 1950's to his half-brother Mikolai in Poland.

At the time, all mail from the West was vetted by the KGB, the former Soviet Secret Service, which already had Sawoniuk on its records of possible war criminals who had escaped abroad.

As the Soviet Union began to break down in the mid-1980's, the list was submitted to British authorities.

However, Sawoniuk's name had been spelled wrongly. Only in 1993, when the names were reviewed, did it emerge that one of the men on the KGB records had moved to Britain.

By the 1990's Sawoniuk, had retired after an unremarkable routine of 25 years working as a ticket collector for British Rail, and living in Bermondsey, south London.

He had slipped into the U.K. under the guise of a Polish patriot after switching sides late on in the conflict.

Sawoniuk was born on 7 March 1921, in the harsh climate of Domachevo. As a boy he would have starved if it were not for the generosity of local wealthy Jewish families.

But when the Germans arrived in 1941, he took up with the Nazi police force to help with the suppression and genocide of local Jews.

During his trial, the jury heard from an eyewitness how he watched Sawoniuk tell two men and a woman to strip beside an open grave and then shot them.

The court also heard how he mowed down 15 people with a submachine gun and pushed their bodies into an open grave.

The jury travelled to Belarus to visit the scenes during the trial.

In February, 2005 Sawoniuk was transferred to Norwich Prison in southeastern Britain from Kingston Jail in Portsmouth, on the southern coast, and was held in a unit for elderly life prisoners.

DPA

Subject: German news

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