For several months, the Institute of National Remembrance has waited for the results of a medical examination of Michael K., a US citizen of Ukrainian descent, a former Waffen-SS officer who is suspected of committing crimes against humanity and war crimes during World War II. The results are necessary to enable him to be brought to justice in Poland.
In March of this year, Kresy.pl published the fact that American experts would perform a medical examinations of Michael K., a Ukrainian and a former Waffen-SS officer, who is believed to be responsible for war crimes from World War II. He has been hiding in the USA for many years. Last year Poland issued an arrest warrant and applied for his extradition.
In an interview with the Kresy.pl portal, prosecutor Robert Janicki from the Central Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes Against the Polish Nation announced that medical experts in the United States had been appointed to consider the status of Michael K.’s health. They are expected to give an opinion on whether he is fit enough to stand trial before a Polish court. These results are necessary before a decision to extradite him can be finalised.
– We do not have such an opinion so far. We are waiting for the results of the examinations – says Janicki. – As I understand it, only then will the Americans let us known whether they will extradite him or not.
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The prosecutor added that the case of Michael K. and his medical status had been the subject of several contacts with the Americans in recent months – among other things, due to „technical” and formal issues still to be determined. The last contact with the Americans on these matters took place 3-4 weeks ago. However, Janicki admits that IPN has not yet received any information as to whether Michael K.’s medical examination had even started despite the fact that the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) expressed the hope back in March that K.’s medical examination would begin as soon as possible.
By way of background, Institute of National Remembrance investigators applied a specialised method known as ‚facial comparison using photographs’. It involved a comparison by photographic experts of a photograph of Mykhale Karkocia’s application for German citizenship taken in February 1940 with other photographs, mainly from the post-war period, including a photograph of Mychajło K. with his brother that had been published in the media but that originally came from the archives of the Karkociów family. Thanks to the joint proposal by the Kresy.pl and the British Holocaust researcher, Dr. Stephen Ankier, it was possible to bring this method into formal operation. In February of last year, Kresy.pl was the first media outlet to publish the fact that, according to unofficial information, the specialised test of ‚facial comparison using photographs’ was very likely to confirm the identity of Mykolało / Michael K. In March 2016, the Institute of National Remembrance announced that the comparative identity had been confirmed. It was pointed out that the evidence gathered clearly indicated that the Ukrainian, Mykhailo Karlov, was a war criminal responsible for the death of 44 Poles.
Michael (Mychajło) K. was a co-founder and commander of the Ukrainian Self-Defense Legion, a collaborative formation of the Third Reich consisting of Ukrainian volunteers. On 23rd July 1944, his company carried out the ‚pacification’ of Chłaniów village in the Lublin region by way of retaliation for the killing by Polish guerrillas of the German liaison officer. As a result, 44 inhabitants of Chłaniów and neighboring Władysławin, including children, were murdered. Later, the company commanded by K. took part, among others atrocities, in the ‚pacification’ of Czerniaków district during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. The Ukrainian Self-Defense Legion was later incorporated into the well-known Ukrainian collaborative formation, the Waffen-SS division „Galizien”.
According to available information, Mychajło K. received an American visa and went to the United States in 1949. He lied to the Americans that he had not served in the army during the war. He now lives in an Ukrainian district of Minneapolis where he once worked as a carpenter. He received American citizenship and was active in local Ukrainian organisations.
The request for extradition sent in June to the United States is the result of several years of investigation launched after a British Holocaust investigator, retired pharmacologist Dr. Stephen Ankier, researched and documented Michael K’s war time activities, located him in the US and publicised his case in the media. During the IPN investigation, the main problem for Polish investigators became the issue of identification. According to IPN documents, the trail of Mychajło K. stops in January 1945 in Cracow. It was not until four years later that the man known as Michael K. arrived in the States. Comparing documents from before and after his arrival was not considered by IPN investigators as sufficient to conclude a definitive personal identification and the investigation’s progress then seemed to become frustrated.
Kresy.pl established contact and the cooperation of Dr. Stephen Ankier during 2016. Thanks to photographic materials handed over to IPN and the use by the IPN investigators of a new forensic method, ‘facial recognition and comparative imagery analysis’, it became possible to achieve a definitive and positive confirmation that the wartime commander Mychajło K was the same man as Michael K. in the United States. IPN acknowledged that the use of photographic analysis following the joint intervention of Kresy.pl and Dr. Stephen Ankier played an „an important and vital role” in confirming the identity of Michael K. In his opinion, it was also vital to link the pseudonym K. used during the war with the individual in the States within the procedural documentation.
On 13th March 2017, IPN officially stated that the identity of Michael K. was confirmed and the prosecutor of the Branch of the Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation of the Institute of National Remembrance in Lublin sent to the court an application for his arrest.
In February Kresy.pl were the first member of the media to report, that according to unofficial information, the use of specialised forensic techniques involving photographic analysis would most likely confirm the identity of Mykhailo / Michael K.
Kresy.pl were the only medium in Poland, that has been investigating and covering the Karkoć’s Case for last several months, joining efforts with British Holocaust researcher, Dr Stephen Ankier.