Niznansky denies WW2 massacres in Slovakia
6 December 2005, MUNICH - Ladislav Niznansky, 88, one of the last people in the world to go on trial for World War II atrocities, deplored Tuesday the deaths of Slovak civilians but insisted he had not killed them.
6 December 2005
MUNICH - Ladislav Niznansky, 88, one of the last people in the world to go on trial for World War II atrocities, deplored Tuesday the deaths of Slovak civilians but insisted he had not killed them.
He was speaking just before the German court in Munich retired to consider its verdict, due on December 19.
His lawyer, Steffen Ufer, demanded an acquittal and applied for monetary compensation for the nine months Niznansky spent in pre-trial custody. Slovak-born Niznansky, who is a naturalized German, is currently free on bail.
"I deeply deplore the casualties among civilian population," said Niznansky, who was an intelligence agent after the War and then a researcher for Radio Free Europe in Munich. He said he was not asking for mercy, but was "trusting to the fairness of the court".
Niznansky was an officer in a Nazi-run, anti-partisan militia known as Edelweiss. He denies leading three massacres in January 1945. Prosecutors this month demanded he be convicted of 164 counts of murder and sentenced to life in jail.
The indictment charges that he commanded the Slovak wing of Edelweiss to gun down 146 civilians in Ostry Grun and Klak on January 21, 1945 and that he selected an execution squad on February 7, 1945 to murder 18 Jews who had been discovered in hiding at Ksina.
The defence counsel slammed the prosecutor for presenting evidence from a 1962 trial in absentia in communist-era Czechoslovakia.
He said the co-defendants had testified under duress against Niznansky, who was sentenced to death. A week ago, prosecutor Konstantin Kuchenbauer said the evidence was generally reliable as no one had been tortured to make them speak.
Ufer told the court the massacres were conducted by Germans from the Waffen SS, the SS and the homeland security service.
Subject: German news