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In this picture taken May 10, 2013, Ivan Hrushka, 69, approaches the site of a peasant house - under trees in the distance on the right - where 21 people, including nine children were burned alive  on Dec.3, 1943, in his home village of Pidhaitsi close to Ukraine's western city of Lutsk. Evidence uncovered by AP indicates that Ukrainian Self Defense Legion commander Michael Karkoc's unit was in the area at the time of the massacre of civilians . There is no indication any other units were in the area at the time.  (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

A Minnesota man was arrested on suspicion of being a former Nazi commander


A former Nazi commander was arrested in Minneapolis on Monday. Now he may be extradited to Poland to face war crime charges.

Michael K., identified by The Associated Press as Michael Karkoc, 98, led an SS unit that burned Polish villages and killed civilians in World War II, prosecutors said.

His family denied his involvement in any war crimes and calls Poland's announcement "scandalous and baseless slanders."

Prosecutor Robert Janicki said Karkoc commanded the Ukranian Self Defense Legion. This came four years after the Associated Press published a story arguing Karkoc was the commander, citing his former soldiers.

The original AP story on Karkoc was based on eyewitness and Nazi military rosters. Some witnesses said Karkoc's unit lit buildings on fire and gunned down more than 40 people.

There's nothing in the historical record that indicates my father had any role whatsoever in any type of war crime activity.
Andriy Karkoc, Michael's son

Karkoc's family continues to deny the allegations. 

If found guilty, Karkoc could face life in prison. 

Efraim Zuroff, the top Nazi-hunter of Simon Wiesenthal Center gestures during a press conference in Belgrade, Serbia, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. The state court in Lueneburg, northern Germany, has convicted 94-year-old former Auschwitz guard Oskar Groening, as accessory to murder on Wednesday, tried on 300,000 counts of accessory to murder, related to a period between May and July 1944 when hundreds of thousands of Jews from Hungary were brought to the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex in Nazi-occupied Poland. ?This verdict was critical, because this is the first case brought where the prosecution charged a person who wasn?t involved in the physical side of mass murder,? said Zuroff, Groening admitted he guarded prisoners' baggage after they arrived at Auschwitz and collected money stolen from them. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Karkoc's family said he suffers from Alzheimer's disease. But Efraim Zuroff, a historian and Nazi hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said many old Nazis try to look as sick as possible to avoid arrest.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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