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Hunt for Nazi war criminals extended to South America

[JURIST] The Simon Wiesenthal Center [advocacy website] announced Tuesday that it will extend its campaign to capture and prosecute suspected Nazi war criminals to four South American countries. In a press conference in Buenos Aires, director Efraim Zuroff outlined the details of Operation Last Chance [project website], which will offer rewards to anyone providing information that leads to the capture of suspected Nazis in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay [JURIST news archives]. According to the Center, between 150 and 300 suspected Nazi war criminals entered Argentina after the end of World War II, and "dozens, if not hundreds" remain in hiding in South America today. Zuroff announced that there is evidence indicating that Aribert Heim [Guardian report], a doctor accused of performing medical experiments on concentration camp detainees, is living in South America. Although Heim's family claims that he died in Argentina in 1993, the Center is offering a reward of 310,000 euros for information leading to his capture. Heim would be in his 90s if still alive.

The Jerusalem-based Center began its campaign in 2002, targeting Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Thus far, it has led to information regarding 488 suspects in 20 countries and has referred 99 cases to local prosecutors. Last week, Italy's high court upheld the life sentences of three former Nazi officials [JURIST report] who were convicted of war crimes. The Wiesenthal Center reports that 21 Nazi war criminals were convicted in 2006, and that 16 were convicted [JURIST report] in the previous year. Deutsche Welle has more. Clarin has local coverage, in Spanish.

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