Call to speed up genocide trial of alleged Serbian Nazi

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) has appealed to US authorities to help justice to be done by speeding up the extradition of a man accused of Nazi war crimes.

Peter Egner, allegedly a member of the Belgrade Gestapo during the Holocaust, will face charges of genocide if he is extradited to his former home of Serbia.

The 88-year-old, who is German but was born and raised in what was then Yugoslavia, is suspected of serving in an Einsatzgruppe, one of the mobile Nazi units, which was responsible for the deaths of 17,000 civilians, including Jews, Roma and political captives.

The alleged massacres occurred between 1941 and 1943, when the Nazis occupied the country. Mr Egner gained US citizenship in 1966.

In 2008 the US Justice Department said there were German papers revealing Mr Egner’s Nazi history, and called for a court to remove his citizenship and extradite him.

Ronald Lauder, president of the WJC, said that “no further time” should be wasted before putting Mr Egner on trial.

He said: “The accusations brought against Egner are so horrendous. Not only the Jewish community in Serbia, but Jews world-wide expect Nazi war criminals to be tried and brought to justice, irrespective of their age.

“These people may be frail, but so are many Holocaust survivors. Justice done belatedly is still better than justice not done at all.”

Last updated: 12:45pm, December 21 2010