Poland will seek the arrest and extradition of a Minnesota man exposed by the AP as a former commander in an SS-led unit that burned Polish villages and killed civilians in World War II, prosecutors said Monday. Prosecutor Robert Janicki said evidence gathered over years of investigation into US citizen Michael K. confirmed "100%" that he was a commander of a unit in the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion. He did not release the last name, in line with Poland's privacy laws, but the AP has identified the man as 98-year-old Michael Karkoc, from Minneapolis. The decision in Poland comes four years after the AP published a story establishing that Karkoc commanded the unit, based on wartime documents, testimony from other members of the unit and Karkoc's own Ukrainian-language memoir.
"All the pieces of evidence interwoven together allow us to say the person who lives in the US is Michael K., who commanded the Ukrainian Self Defense Legion which carried out the pacification of Polish villages in the Lublin region," Janicki said. Prosecutors with the National Remembrance Institute, which investigates Nazi and Communist-era crimes against Poles, have asked a court in Lublin to issue an arrest warrant for Karkoc. If granted, Poland would seek his extradition, as Poland does not allow trial in absentia, Janicki said. If convicted of ordering the killing of civilians in 1944, Karkoc could face life in prison. Karkoc's family has repeatedly denied he was involved in any war crimes and his son questioned the validity of the evidence against him after Poland's announcement, calling the accusations "scandalous and baseless slanders." Click for more on his story. (Read more Michael Karkoc stories.)