22 January 2004
PRAGUE – Ladislav Niznansky, an 86-year-old Nazi war crimes suspect arrested in Germany last week, was investigated in 1965 by German authorities – but the case was dropped because the communist judiciary in the former Czechoslovakia refused to surrender documents, a Czech newspaper revealed.
The Lidove Noviny newspaper said Wednesday Niznansky had been investigated by the public prosecutors office in Munich where he had lived and worked since 1948.
Niznansky is alleged to have commanded an “Edelweiss” special forces unit during World War II which hunted down guerrilla fighters trying to overthrow the Nazis.
He is accused of ordering the January 1945 killings of 146 people in two Slovak villages in reprisal for attacks on the pro-Nazi government.
The following month he is alleged to have ordered the shooting of 18 Jews who were found hiding in an underground bunker.
Czech authorities allegedly requested Niznansky’s extradition from Germany in the 1980s, the Czech news agency CTK quoted a Prague historian as saying, but German authorities deny this.
A Czech interior ministry employee told Czech television station CT, that Niznansky was acquitted on lack of evidence by a Czech court shortly after the end of the war.
Afterwards he joined the Czech secret service, which could have been a reason for his acquittal, the interior ministry source said.
However in his absence he was sentenced to death in 1962 by a Czech court.
Following a move to Austria, Niznansky began working for the US secret service. About 1948 he moved to Germany where he worked for Radio Free Europe in Munich until 1983.
One of his former bosses, Hanus Hajek, told the Lidove Noviny he knew there was a death warrant for Niznansky in the former Czechoslovakia.
Niznanksy, who has held German citizenship since 1996, was arrested last Friday in Munich. He has been charged with 164 counts of murder.
Subject: German news