The case of the extradition of Michael K., the former Ukrainian Waffen-SS officer, suspected of war crimes during World War II, is being blocked by the American authorities while the Polish authorities are not interested. According to unofficial information obtained by the Kresy.pl portal, the Americans are delaying formal proceedings, and the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland is evading the matter of whether K.’s case will be raised during Donald Trump’s [now Mike Pence’s – ed.] visit.
A year ago, Jakiw Palij, a 95-year-old Ukrainian and a guard in a former German labour camp, was deported from the USA to Germany on the instructions of President Donald Trump. Despite clearly being in ill health, he was removed from his home in Queens, transported to a plane and then was flown to Europe. In January this year, Palij died.
In the context of the deportation and death of Palij, we remind you once again of the case of Michael K. aka Mychajło Karkoc, a US citizen of Ukrainian descent, a former Waffen-SS officer and commander in Ukrainian Self-defence Legion, suspected of committing a crime against humanity and a war crime during World War II that, according to all the evidence, makes him responsible for death of 44 Poles. Kresy.pl has been pursuing this matter for several years. Based on the information received, we have reason to believe that the Karkoc case is being deliberately swept under the carpet by the American administration, which is being done with the silent consent of the Polish side.
The case is dragging on
Let us remind you that Poland is demanding that Michael Karkoc of Minneapolis be deported and brought to justice. In 2017, Poland requested his extradition. The issue remains pending. For over a year, IPN has been waiting for the results of a medical examination of Michael K.
In July last year, during an interview with the Kresy.pl portal, a representative of the Main Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes Against the Polish Nation admitted that the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) had still not received information as to whether the medical examination of Michael K. had even started. During March this year, representatives of the Institute expressed the hope that K.’s examination would begin as soon as possible. According to information obtained by the portal Kresy.pl, several experts were appointed in the USA a long ago in agreement with the Americans, but only one of them has conducted any examination.
Based on the official information obtained at the Institute of National Remembrance, or more precisely from the Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation, it can be concluded that not much has changed in the Michael K. case since then. Prosecutor Dariusz Antoniak from the District Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation in Lublin, who dealt with the case, confirmed that a request was made to the US for the temporary arrest and extradition of Michael Karkoc. Meanwhile, the prosecutor of the Institute of National Remembrance had requested that a full medical examination be conducted by experts in psychiatry and in geriatrics.
In reply to our enquiries, we were informed that: „This case is monitored on an ongoing basis by the Office of International Cooperation of the National Prosecutor’s Office. District Commission in Lublin is waiting for the American side to carry out its activities”.
It should be remembered, however, that these experts were appointed more than a year ago, and since then, according to available information, only one of them (whose independence has not even been confirmed) has examined Karkoc in the USA. Nothing has changed since then, although in such a long period of over 12 months, Karkoc could easily have been examined by three or four experts.
Moreover, the information obtained by the Kresy.pl website indicates that the Americans, despite earlier official declarations, and even incentives to act, including those made by important officials and diplomats, have clearly lost enthusiasm since receiving the extradition request. They have not treated this whole significant matter as important, let alone giving it priority. The IPN and the Prosecution Commission continue to monitor the case on an ongoing basis by repeatedly contacting the US authorities, which, however, puts the case on the halt. It is hardly understandable, for example, for what reason are there the long delays in responding to follow up questions. Why is there excessive such bureaucracy that is being acknowledged unofficially? Such fears were also expressed a long time ago by a few people familiar with the Karkoc case. However, now these people neighter do not want to say anything officially, or unofficially only about the case – even refusing to make a statements for fear of possible consequences.
All this shows that the extradition of Karkoc does not look promising. The Americans seem to be dragging their feet, avoiding any clear declarations especially in respect of whether the health of the Ukrainian fugitive allows his extradition or not. Some people who are very familiar with the Karkoc case admit that the attitude of the American is astonishing, the more so since the evidence gathered about Karkoc is very strong and which should be more than sufficient to prove his guilt in court.
Time is running out
Let us also emphasise that time is working very much against the Polish position. In March this year, Karkoć turned 100 years of age. At the end of 2018, we received information about the death of his wife, Nadia. People dealing with his case (including Dr. Stephen Ankier, who first located Michael Karkoc, documented his alleged crimes and, with Kresy.pl, played a major role in confirming his identity) do not hide their fears that soon he will be able to end his days on earth peacefully without facing the justice that he deserves. Currently, because of the state of his health, this alleged war criminal is in a nursing home. The Americans admitted, however, that his condition was not very bad, although the expert (the only one who had examined the former Waffen-SS officer so far) tried to question the possibility of transporting him by ‚plane to Europe. At the same time, there was no clear signal to Poland that it was impossible although in reality that would also be the answer.
This saga is all the more puzzling in that the Polish authorities declare close and better cooperation with the United States. However, all further actions regarding Michael K. are the responsibility of the US Government and the US Department of Justice. What can the Polish authorities do? Given that in the case of Palij, the decision was made by President Donald Trump, who will soon make his second visit to Poland and will once again meet, among others with President Andrzej Duda, the Polish authorities will have an excellent opportunity to pursue the matter of Karkoc to its just conclusions [the original article in Polish had been published just hours before the information about Trump postponing his visit; vice-president Mike Pence is coming to Poland instead – ed.].
The Kresy.pl portal turned to the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland (KPRP), asking, among other things, whether it has any knowledge as to whether the Karkoc case has been raised during earlier Polish-American talks.
In the reply we were informed that: „The Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland kindly informs that it has no other information in the case than the one indicated in the question”. Regarding our question about why the US authorities are not taking any action after Michael K. lied to them when applying to enter the United States by hiding his service as a Nazi collaborator in his visa application, the KPRP merely stated that it „does not comment on the actions of foreign authorities.”
In respect of the upcoming visit of President Donald Trump to Poland, we asked if, therefore, Mr. President or any of the ministers / officials of the KPRP will raise the issue of the extradition of Michael Karkoc in talks with the Americans. The KPRP again refrained from a clear answer, using obscure legal and formal statements. We were told that „issues related to planned or intended but not yet materialised activities of public bodies remain outside the scope of the Act on access to public information” and „the application cannot (…) concern future unspecified intentions (sic!).”
The KPRP did not answer the question of whether President Duda or any of the Chancellor’s high-ranking officials, such as Minister Krzysztof Szczerski, will raise the case of Michael K. in talks with the Americans. Based on the answers given to us, we have the right to be afraid, that it will not. And there is no indication that this will change.
We asked similar questions to the US Embassy in Warsaw, whist represent the US government in Poland. After more than two weeks of waiting, we received only a brief, one-sentence message in English from the US embassy in Warsaw: „the Embassy has no comment on U.S. citizens residing in the U.S. since this is not an Embassy consular matter ” Apparently, the official US representation in Poland is not interested in publicising the case. This corresponds to unofficial reports that Americans do not want the Karkoc affair to be raised by the media.
The case is being actively blocked from making progress. It is not expected that the matter will be raised by the Polish authorities when Trump visits. This means that Michael Karkoć, a Ukrainian criminal responsible for the murder of Polish civilians and a former Waffen-SS officer, will scandalously avoid personal responsibility for his evil actions and justice itself – all with the passive consent of the current authorities in Warsaw, including the Head of State.