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Canadian Nazi war criminal Vladimir Katriuk dies aged 93

One of the world's most wanted Nazi war criminals has died in Canada aged 93. Vladimir Katriuk is said to have been involved in a World War II massacre in what is now Belarus.

Katriuk, who hailed from Ukraine and emigrated to Canada in 1951, died last week at the age of 93, after a long illness, according to his lawyer. He was the second most wanted man on the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of Nazi war criminals.

He had also been charged with genocide in absentia by Russia, for his alleged involvement in a World War II massacre in Khatyn, which is now part of Belarus. Katriuk always maintained he was forced to join a Ukrainian battalion of the SS and denied the charges.

But a 2012 study, commissioned by Sweden's Lund University, claimed he was a key participant in the atrocity. "One witness stated that Vladimir Katriuk was a particularly active participant in the atrocity: he reportedly lay behind the stationary machine-gun, firing rounds on anyone attempting to escape the flames," said the article.

Katriuk, however, said he was only ever responsible for protecting residents and livestock from Resistance fighter attacks.

From Nazi to beekeeper

Katriuk allegedly deserted his SS unit when it moved to France from eastern Europe in 1944. He lived in France before emigrating to Canada in 1951, where he took Canadian citizenship. Although a court ruled that he obtained citizenship under false pretenses, the Canadian government in 2007 decided not to revoke it.

He had lived with his French-born wife in Ontario since the 1950s, working as a beekeeper.

Earlier this month, Russia charged Katriuk with genocide, requesting his extradition. But the Canadian government refused, saying that Moscow's interference in Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea meant that Canada would not consider the request.

Meanwhile in Hamburg, prosecutors dropped their case against suspected Nazi war criminal Gerhard Sommer. He suffers from dementia and has been declared unfit for trial.

ng/ (AFP, AP)

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