War crimes suspect 'beat Jew'
published 08/03/1999 at 18:53 GMT
A jury at the trial of retired British Rail worker, Anthony Sawoniuk, has heard allegations that he repeatedly beat a Jew to the ground before taking him away to be killed.
Anthony Sawoniuk: Defendant in Britain's first full war crimes trial
A 75-year-old witness, Ivan Stepaniuk, told the court at the Old Bailey in London that he saw his former employer - a Jew known as Schlemko - in a street in Belarus "just before he was taken away
to be shot".
Schlemko was escorted by two local policemen. One of them is alleged to have been Sawoniuk, now 77 and facing charges of murdering Jews in Britain's first full war crimes trial.
The prosecution alleges that Sawoniuk collaborated with the occupying Nazis during World War II, heading search-and-kill squads to hunt down Jews trying to escaping death.
Sawoniuk, from south-east London, denies four charges of murdering Jews in his home town of Domachevo, Belarus in 1942.
The eye-witness said he had been working as an apprentice at a forge in Domachevo when saw one of the two policemen "beating Schlemko on the back with a spade".
Speaking in Ukranian through an interpreter, Mr Stepaniuk said he knew the policeman as Andrusha, whom the prosecution allege to be Sawoniuk.
"After he was beaten, he fell to the ground. He was picked up and carried on going - then he was beaten and fell down again. They were in my sight two to five minutes, no more," said Mr Stepaniuk.
"They were going towards the woods. There was a sound of gunfire - nothing more. That is all I heard."
Beaten man 'insensitive'
Schlemko had done nothing to protect himself as he was beaten, Mr Stepaniuk told the court.
Asked to describe Schlemko's spirit at the time, the witness replied: "Well, how do you think, when he was being led to his death? He was quite insensitive."
Asked by Sir John Nutting, QC, prosecuting, what he meant by "insensitive", Mr Stepaniuk replied: "He appeared to be completely without feeling. He was picked off the ground to go on again."
He had seen Andrusha's face. "Each time when he picked up Schlemko, he would turn round."
Later he had seen Andrusha returning.
"I was in the forge. He was coming back from the woods where the shooting was coming from."
The trial continues.