(JTA) – The son of a Minnesota man, 98, accused by a police court of Nazi war crimes, has called for the evidence against his father to be released.
Andriy Karkoc, son of the Minnesota man first identified by the Associated Press as Michael Karkoc, called on Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, the two Democratic senators from Minnesota, to intervene in his father’s case “on legal and humanitarian grounds” and to investigate the source of the evidence against him, the AP reported Saturday. Andriy Karkoc reportedly says the evidence was fabricated by Russian intelligence.
The arrest warrant issued Wednesday by the regional court in Lublin is the first step toward requesting the extradition of Michael Karkoc, The Associated Press reported.
“My father was, is, and remains an innocent man,” his son said Saturday.
Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance–Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation said in a statement on its website that Michael Karkoc was one of the commanders of the SS Galicia Division, also known as the Ukrainian Self-Defense Legion, a unit that burned Polish villages and killed civilians during World War II. He is accused of playing a role in the murders of civilians in the villages of Chłaniow and Kolonia Władysławin in July 1944.
He did not mention his Nazi past when he entered the United States in 1949, which would have prevented him from entering the country, the AP reported.
Andriy Karkoc said his father served “honorably” with the Ukrainian Self Defense Legion, and that he cannot be judged by the actions of other people in the unit.
Michael Karkoc now lives in a nursing home in Minneapolis, according to The New York Times. Its report cited family members as saying that he is innocent of the charges, and that he has dementia and is not fit to stand trial.
In a Ukrainian-language memoir published in 1995, Michael Karkoc said he helped found the Ukrainian Self-Defense Legion in 1943 in collaboration with Nazi officers to fight on behalf of Germany and against the Soviet Union, The New York Times reported.
He must appear in court in Poland since the country does not recognize trial in absentia, according to the AP.
The Associated Press said that it stands by its reporting of Michael Karkoc.
A Polish prosecutor announced Monday the filing of a warrant to extradite a Minnesota man accused of committing war crimes for the Nazis during WWII.
Ninety-eight-year-old Michael Karkoc is accused of ordering the burning of a village full of women and children while serving as a Nazi Schutzstaffel — commonly referred to as the SS — commander during the war.
Prosecutor Robert Janicki said on Monday that there is evidence Karkoc was responsible for the death of 44 Poles in that and possibly other attacks during WWII, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Though it is unclear when this particular village was ravaged, it was the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939 that started WWII. Karkoc would have been 20 years old around that time.
He and his family maintain that Karkoc has done nothing wrong, and is unable to defend himself, the Associated Press reported.
In 2015, the German government reportedly halted its own investigation into the matter after determining Karkoc was unfit for trial.
Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Associated Press that an independent assessment of Karkoc should be conducted to determine whether he is well enough to stand trial.
“It’s high time that the Poles became more active seeking people who committed crimes in WWII on Polish soil,” Zuroff told the AP, adding Karkoc’s extradition and others would send “a very powerful message.”
According to a 2015 Wiesenthal Center report written by Zuroff, in the past 14 years there have been at least 102 convictions of Nazi war criminals, some 98 new indictments filed and more than 3,500 new investigations launched.
In 2013, the Jewish human rights organization called on the U.S. Department of Justice to launch an investigation into Karkoc, “who is suspected of being a Ukrainian SS commandant who concealed his wartime record in order to enter the U.S. after WWII.”
Poland recently published a database containing the names of some 200 concentration camp guards online, according to German news organization Deutsche Welle reported.
Two MS-13 gang members from El Salvador, both in the United States illegally, held three teenage girls against their will and killed one of them in what was described as a satanic ritual, authorities in Houston said Friday.
Miguel Alvarez-Flores, 22, and Diego Hernandez-Rivera, 18, have been arrested and charged with aggravated kidnapping and murder — both first-degree felonies punishable by up to life in prison. Bond has been set at $300,000 for each, but immigration detainers will keep both behind bars.
The 15-year-old girl’s body was found Feb. 16 with gunshot wounds to the face and chest. Homicide detective Sgt. Chris Sturdivant said that the girl’s identity has not been officially determined but that investigators are confident they know who she is — a girl reported missing in January in nearby Jersey Village, Texas.
The captives were three “young, impressionable women” ranging in age from 14 to 16 who succumbed to the allure of gang life before being taken to an apartment and held there against their will, Sturdivant said. The 14-year-old girl told investigators that they were fed drugs and alcohol and forced to have sex.
The girl said the 15-year-old was killed in a satanic ritual because she had struck the gang’s shrine to a satanic saint, according to investigators. She told investigators that Alvarez-Flores made a peace offering to the figure in the form of a cigarette.
“He returned from the statue and told the entire group that the beast did not want a material offering but wanted a soul,” state District Judge Maria Jackson said during the men’s initial court appearance Wednesday.
The 14-year-old said she later awoke to find the 15-year-old gone, according to investigators. The case comes as President Trump is promoting concerns over criminal immigrants living in the United States illegally.
He has announced that he plans to create an agency, called Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement, or VOICE, to serve victims of crimes committed by such immigrants. It would be part of the Department of Homeland Security.
“The majority of the MS-13 members we come into contact with are here illegally,” Sturdivant said. Attorneys for Alvarez-Flores and Hernandez-Rivera did not immediately return calls Friday night.
Sturdivant said both men admitted their involvement in the abductions and killing after their arrests Monday. An FBI multi-jurisdictional anti-gang task force continues to investigate, and Sturdivant said authorities are seeking other gang members who were possibly involved in the crimes.
MS-13, also called Mara Salvatrucha, is believed to have been founded in Los Angeles in the mid-1980s by immigrants fleeing civil war in El Salvador. It is now a major international criminal enterprise.
RIO DE JANEIRO — The Trump administration imposed sanctions against Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami, accusing him of playing a major role in international drug trafficking.
El Aissami, who has been accused of anti-Semitism and ties to Iran and the terrorist group Hezbollah, has been barred from entering the United States. The executive decree issued Monday is the result of a years-long investigation.
One confidential intelligence document links El Aissami to 173 Venezuelan passports and IDs that were issued to individuals from the Middle East, including people connected to Hezbollah, reported CNN.
There was no immediate reaction from the Venezuelan government or El Aissami, who has long denied any criminal ties. He was tapped as the South American country’s vice president by President Nicolas Maduro in early January.
“Not only implicated in drug trafficking and relations with the Colombian terrorist FARC movement, El-Aissami has inherited ex-President Hugo Chavez’s hatred of Israel and Jews and can now pursue Maduro’s anti-Semitism, further threatening Jewish lives in Venezuela,” the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s representative in Latin America, Ariel Gelblung, said in January.
He added: “Indeed, El-Aissami may transform anti-Semitism into state policy and further the transplantation of the Middle East conflict to South America.”
According to the Wiesenthal Center, Aissami’s name has appeared as an intermediary between Iran and Argentina in the plan to camouflage Tehran’s alleged complicity in the 1994 Buenos Aires AMIA Jewish Center bombing, which killed 85 and injured 300. No one has been brought to justice for the bombing.
Last month, nine Venezuelan Jewish converts were permitted to immigrate to Israel after their initial request was denied. The indigenous Venezuelans converted to Judaism in 2014 under the auspices of a Conservative rabbinical court and will need to undergo a second conversion described as “symbolic.”
A recent Washington Post article said about 6,000 to 9,000 Jews remain in Venezuela, which has a general population of approximately 30 million. Just 15 years ago there were 20,000 Jews living in the South American nation.
Citing Israeli government data, the paper reported that 111 Venezuelan Jews moved to Israel in 2015 – more than double the number from three years earlier.
WASHINGTON — A conservative media personality tapped by the incoming Donald Trump administration for a top communications role was accused Saturday of plagiarizing sections of her 2012 book, CNN reported.
The president-elect has nominated Monica Crowley, a talk-radio host and Fox News commentator, to a senior communications job with the National Security Council.
After reviewing her book “What The (Bleep) Just Happened,” CNN reported finding some 50 sections copied — some with minor changes — from news articles, websites, think-tank reports and Wikipedia.
A section on Keynesian economics, for example, came almost directly from a 2009 article published on investopedia.com.
The Trump team defended Crowley in a statement, saying her “exceptional insight and thoughtful work on how to turn this country around is exactly why she will be serving in the administration.”
“Any attempt to discredit Monica is nothing more than a politically motivated attack that seeks to distract from the real issues facing the country,” CNN quoted the statement as saying, without confirming or denying the accusations of plagiarism.
CHARLESTON, S.C. — When he was arrested, the man accused of killing nine people during a Bible study in a Charleston church had in his car a list of other black churches in the area, law enforcement officials testified Monday.
At the time, Dylann Roof told FBI agents he was too “worn out” from the June 2015 shootings at Emanuel AME Church to pursue further shootings. But prosecutors trying him on dozens of federal charges presented evidence to jurors that Roof, armed with a handgun, ammunition, clothing and other supplies, could potentially have been planning more violence.
During roughly two hours on the stand, former State Law Enforcement Division agent Brittany Burke testified that names of a handful of other churches and their addresses were found on a handwritten list in a backpack in Roof’s car.
Also on papers found in Roof’s car were phone numbers for the Statehouse complex in Columbia, as well as the name of Denmark Vesey, one of the historical founders of Charleston’s Emanuel AME.
Vesey led a failed 1822 slave rebellion that drove the church underground. After the plot was reported, Vesey was hanged and the church was burned. The church was rebuilt, but in 1834 all black churches were banned and members worshiped “underground” until 1865, when Emanuel AME Church was formally reorganized.
Burke is one of the state agents who processed evidence found in Roof’s car when he was arrested after the shootings at the church known as Mother Emanuel. A jury last week began hearing testimony against Roof, 22, who is on trial on 33 federal charges, including hate crimes and obstruction of the practice of religion.
Roof has formally entered a not guilty plea to all the charges. But his attorneys have said he’s willing to change that to guilty if prosecutors agree not to seek the death penalty against him.
In a videotaped, two-hour confession played for jurors last week, Roof told FBI agents he left bullets in a magazine so that he could kill himself after the slayings but changed his mind when he didn’t see any police immediately after the shooting.
“Oh no. I was worn out,” Roof said, when an agent asked if he thought about killing more black people.
Photographs introduced Monday as evidence showed that Roof was essentially living in his car. Recovered from his black sedan were items of clothing, food, beverages and an empty liquor bottle. There were also travel brochures, a cellphone, laptop computer and a burned American flag.
Prosecutors also questioned a witness about Roof’s gun purchase. Ronnie Thrailkill, manager of Shooter’s Choice in West Columbia, testified that a typical background check was done on Roof when he came in to buy a Glock .45-caliber handgun in April 2015, two months before the shootings.
At that time, Thrailkill testified, Roof filled out the standard paperwork required by federal law and left to wait out a three-day waiting period to allow for background checks.
Roof had been arrested for drugs two months earlier, but Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon told the Associated Press after the shootings that a jail clerk had entered incorrect information that was never fixed in a state database.
When Roof sought to buy the gun, an FBI examiner spotted the arrest, but because of the error, called the wrong agency to get his record. Without the necessary documents, the purchase had to go through after three days, and Roof received the gun.
Victims’ families are suing the FBI for negligence in allowing the sale. FBI Director James B. Comey has said Roof should have never been allowed to buy the gun and promised a full review.
Also Monday, state police officers testified about matching 70 bullets recovered at the shooting scene to a gun with Roof’s fingerprints, found in his car. Prosecutors also introduced dozens of photographs from Roof’s website, many of which depicted him posing at various Charleston-area historic sites, including several plantations.
FBI Agent Tracy Sicks also read from Roof’s online manifesto, much of it nearly identical to his journal introduced Friday. Both writings contain dubious, offensive racial claims about blacks and Jews, from stories about African Americans enjoying slavery to segregation keeping white people from being dragged down. A former FBI examiner testified she found the manifesto on Roof’s computer, saying files associated with it were last accessed hours before the shootings.
Federal prosecutors said they planned to call more tech experts and law officers Tuesday, adding that shooting survivor Polly Sheppard would be their final witness.
Acknowledging Roof’s role in the shootings, his defense team has been more focused on the penalty phase of the trial, which will determine whether Roof faces life in prison or the death penalty if convicted.
After choosing his team of foreign policy advisers, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is once again finding himself deep in it. One of his advisors, Joseph Schmitz, is being accused of anti-Semitic behavior. McClatchyDC reports:
Joseph Schmitz, named as one of five advisers by the Trump campaign in March, is accused of bragging when he was Defense Department inspector general a decade ago that he pushed out Jewish employees.
The revelations feed two themes that his opponent Hillary Clinton has used to erode Trump’s credibility: That he is a foreign policy neophyte, and that his campaign, at times, has offended Jews and other minorities.
His three court-appointed lawyers filed a motion Sunday saying that the 22-year-old wanted to discharge them and represent himself. Judge Richard Gergel of U.S. District Court granted the motion moments before jury selection began though he called the self-described white supremacist’s decision “strategically unwise.”
In a series of questions from Gergel, Roof acknowledged that he understood the gravity of the 33 charges against him stemming from the June 2015 shooting deaths of nine black worshipers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in this South Carolina city.
Questioning from Gergel lasted less than 10 minutes with Roof usually providing one-word answers — a “yes” when asked if he understood he would be performing in a federal courtroom, a “no” when asked if he had been coerced.
Self-representation in criminal cases, particularly high-stakes matters, is widely viewed as an exercise in poor judgment, said Eric Muller, a law professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Defendants typically are not versed in the many rules governing criminal cases, such as challenging a court venue or items that may have been seized illegally.
Dylann Roof found competent to stand trial in church shootings
“A layperson typically knows none of these crucial things and is therefore in a terrible position to protect himself,” Muller said.
One well-known example of a defendant serving as his own attorney is Colin Ferguson, who killed six people in a 1993 shooting on the Long Island Rail Road, Muller said. Ferguson’s bizarre lines of questioning marked the proceedings, and he was sentenced to multiple terms that ensure he will not leave prison.
In acting as his own counsel, Roof can directly cross-examine witnesses. If the three survivors of the attack, one of them a girl was who 11 at the time, take the stand, he also would be able to question them.
“The trial judge will have discretion to shape the way in which Roof would handle himself on cross-examination, but there’s no way to prevent the fact (and traumatizing spectacle) of an alleged shooter interrogating his victims,” Muller wrote in email.
Gergel noted that the lawyers representing Roof are experienced capital defenders who have legal expertise that would benefit him.
“I think it is wise for you to be represented by counsel and to get the benefit of that experience,” Gergel said to Roof, who stood before him wearing a white and blue-gray jumpsuit of the Charleston County jail. “You know I think that. You and I have talked about it.”
Because of conversations with Roof and interacting with him in court, Gergel said he believed that Roof has the capacity to represent himself.
Gergel further ordered that Roof’s existing defense team act as standby counsel and then asked the defendant whether he would like those lawyers to sit at the defense tables or in seats behind him.
Roof paused for a moment, raising his left hand to his temple in a gesture of thought, then said, “Umm, at the table.”
Roiling from murder trials, South Carolina searches for healing
With that, Gergel asked lawyer David Bruck, the former lead counsel for Roof who has vast experience in defending death-penalty cases, to shift one seat over, ceding that top spot to Roof.
A panel of 10 potential jurors entered the courtroom minutes later, all of them white and appearing to be at least 50 years old. Eight were women.
Gergel addressed the group briefly, telling them he would be delving into a questionnaire they filled out and might be asking them individually to elaborate on their opinions on the death penalty. He asked that they answer honestly and stressed that any questions about capital punishment should not reflect on guilt.
He also stressed that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. All but one, a woman who is a schoolteacher, was asked to leave so Gergel could question each one individually.
The woman had noted on her questionnaire that a sentence of life imprisonment sometimes can be worse than the death penalty. Gergel asked her to elaborate.
Judge refuses to open Dylann Roof competency hearing
“I mean, all your freedoms are gone,” she said. “I mean, you’re a number and you always have to look behind your back.”
By the lunch recess, the teacher and two other women were qualified as jurors. Seven others were struck for cause, most of them for their unwavering feelings on the death penalty.
Gergel also asked several jurors if race might affect their decision to be fair and impartial.
After the lunch break, four more jurors were qualified, three of them white women and one a white man.
Roof typically said little but weighed in after one prospective panelist, a black man who was the only African American summoned for the day’s proceedings, was questioned.
Dylann Roof attacked next to jail shower
The man indicated he believed the death penalty always should be imposed in homicide cases, an overly strong position that the judge said, after asking the man to step out of the courtroom, should disqualify him for jury service.
Prosecutors asked that the man be further questioned. Roof asked that the man be disqualified.
“I have no additional questions, but at this point I think he should be struck,” Roof said.
Another woman, who said her “core belief” is that she doesn’t believe in the death penalty, was disqualified after reading in a newspaper that Roof offered to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of life without parole.
Prospective jurors have been ordered to avoid news coverage. But the woman said despite her anti-death penalty stance, the story swayed her toward capital punishment in the case.
‘Unshakeable resilience’: Hundreds gather to remember Charleston church shooting victims
“To me, any of the sentences are horrific,” she said. “Whatever he wants, to me, that is the opposite of what he should have.”
The court is scheduled to question 24 prospective jurors Tuesday, a dozen in the morning and 12 more in the afternoon from a remaining pool of 495 people drawn from a local federal district that includes Charleston County and eight counties surrounding it.
Questioning will continue until the court qualifies 70 people as prospective panelists. From that group, prosecutors and the defense team will select 12 jurors and six alternates.
This phase of jury selection initially was set to begin Nov. 7 but was postponed after Gergel ordered Roof to undergo psychiatric evaluation based on a defense motion filed that morning. The issue that sparked the last-minute examination has not been disclosed.
In a later hearing, one that was closed to the public, Gergel ruled that Roof was competent to stand trial.
MOSCOW (JTA) — The Jewish director of a prestigious Moscow school school resigned following reports that a former history teacher at the school had sex with his teenage students and left for Israel.
Sergey Mendelevich, the longtime director of Metropolitan School 57, stepped down Saturday despite calls by parents for him to remain in his position. Several dozens people staged an impromptu rally in support of him outside the school.
Mendelevich’s resignation follows a week of soul searching at the school that began on August 29, when journalist Ekaterina Kronhaus posted on Facebook about her lengthy unpublished investigation of allegations against the teacher. Kronhaus did not name the teacher or the school in her post, but reader comments led other journalists to conclude she was referring to Boris Meerson, a Jewish teacher who resigned from School 57 after 25 years there.
Meerson appears to have left Russia for Israel, where according to some reports in Russian media, he lives in Yokneam. He did not reply to a request for comment from JTA.
Meerson is accused of having sex with 11th and 12 grade girls. Since the age of consent in Russia is 16, Meerson may not face criminal charges even if the allegations against him are verified.
School 57 is one of the most sought-after schools in Russia, offering grades one through 12, with hundreds of applicants for every available spot. Jews have outsized representation in the student body, and many of the teachers are also Jewish.
At least three other teachers resigned from the school in a shakeup last month. Faculty said the Education Ministry will launch a probe of the school.
The number of complainants against Meerson is not yet know. But Korhaus said he had sex with a succession of girls over the years. According to Kornhaus, parents and pupils knew Meerson was sleeping with students, but they ignored and silenced talk about his behavior, including asking her not to write about it.
“For over 16 years, we knew that a history teacher is having affairs with students,” wrote Kornhaus, who described the teacher as “quite a handsome man, smart, sarcastic, charming.” She added: “No wonder it was easy to fall in love with him.”
Following the media storm triggered by Kornhaus’ Facebook post, several women came forward with allegations they had been sexually exploited by Meerson.
“I’m so pleased that it ended this way,” Rivka Gershovich, a Jewish graduate of School 57, wrote on Facebook after the director’s resignation. “I wish with all my heart that the nightmare that happened to me never happens to others.”
Gershovich said her relations with Meerson two years ago, the exact nature of which she did not specify, caused her panic attacks and suffering. She said she remained silent because he told her the school would be shuttered if she complained. “It was a form of blackmail,” she said.
Some media reports about the affair highlighted Meerson’s departure for Russia to Israel.
Alex Kikot, a reporter for the online tabloid Life, wrote that the affair was indicative of a pedophilia problem in “an elite community of jet-setters [who can] quickly get a darkon if something bad happens.” Darkon is the Hebrew word for passport.
A host on TV news network MSNBC was accused of anti-Semitism after he responded to a Twitter post about an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man as a “perfect time” to talk about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement against Israel.
On Wednesday, journalist Collier Meyerson complained on Twitter of being forced to move seats on an Air France flight after a “Hasidic man” refused to sit next to her.
MSNBC host Christopher Hayes, who is also editor of far-left magazine The Nation, responded to her post saying it was the “perfect time to start a good, frank BDS convo.”
@collier perfect time to start a good, frank BDS convo.
— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) August 31, 2016
Meyerson, whose father is Jewish, shot back at Hayes’ comment, saying that she “doesn’t discriminate against Hasidic folk” and pointed out that the man may be from the Satmar Hasidic sect, which is anti-Zionist.
collier meyerson ✔ @collier
@chrislhayes hey man I don’t discriminate against Hasidic folk, they could be satmar, a sect who are actually anti-zionist !
5:45 PM – 31 Aug 2016
3 3 Retweets 34 34 likes
His post garnered dozens of responses, most of the them perturbed by his connection between the actions of the Jewish man on the flight and a boycott of Israel. Several of the commentators said that making the link was anti-Semitic.
The Jerusalem Post’s Op-Ed Editor Seth J. Frantzman responded to Hayes’ comment, saying that “it’s time to start a good frank discussion about [anti-Semitism].” In the same post, he asked why “every time Jews do something [you] attack Israel?!”
Seth Frantzman @sfrantzman
@chrislhayes @collier it’s time to start a good, frank discussion about #antisemitism and y everytime Jews do something u attack #Israel?!
1:08 AM – 2 Sep 2016
17 17 Retweets 26 26 likes