Group launches new Nazi hunt in South America

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BUENOS AIRES, Nov 27 (Reuters) A rights group that pursues Nazis said it is bringing its campaign to find aging war criminals to South America.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a prominent Jewish rights group running ''Operation: Last Chance,'' says that after Germany's defeat in the Second World War 150 to 300 suspected war criminals entered Argentina and others went to Brazil, Chile and Uruguay.

The project, which offers financial rewards for information facilitating the prosecution and punishment of Holocaust perpetrators, began in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in 2002.

''The project ... has revealed the names of 480 suspects in 20 countries. Ninety-nine of those cases have been referred to state prosecutors,'' the Buenos Aires office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a statement yestrday, referring to worldwide figures for the program.

The project also led to three arrest warrants and two extradition petitions and prompted dozens of ongoing investigations, the group said.

After the end of the Second World War, hundreds of Nazis fled to Latin America where many governments helped them resettle.

A team of Israeli agents kidnapped Holocaust planner Adolph Eichmann in Argentina in 1960 and took him to Israel where he was tried and later hung.

Josef Mengele, the ''Angel of Death'' from the Auschwitz concentration camp, escaped to Argentina and also lived in Paraguay before he died in Brazil in 1979.

Reuters AK VP0612

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