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Son of Minn. man accused of war crimes says his father 'never a Nazi'

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The son of a Minneapolis man accused of being a former Nazi leader is denying reports about his father, KSTP-TV reports.

Andrij Karkos -- the son of the alleged Nazi Commander Michael Karkoc -- read a statement late Friday in the wake of a story by The Associated Press, whom he claims defames his father.

Karkos, who uses a different spelling of his last name than his father's, read a prepared statement.

"That's the God's honest truth," said Karkos said. "My father was never a Nazi."

He also said The AP's story was "notably lacking in proof or evidence."

Karkos says the family will not comment any further until they can obtain their own documents and have reviewed witnesses and sources, the station says.

See KSTP's report, including Karkos' full statement, below.

Residents in a northeast Minneapolis neighborhood were shocked earlier Friday to learn that Karkoc, 94, who lived nearby them could be a former Nazi leader, local media reported.

No one was answering the door at Karkoc’s home Friday morning, after the Associated Press broke the story that he had lied to officials in order to gain entrance into the United States not long after World War II, WCCO reported. Karkoc had declined comment to the AP.

Next-door neighbor Gordon Gnasdoskey said he had known Karkoc casually for years and was shocked by the news, WCCO reported.

“I think it’s ... the word says it: atrocity,” Gnasdoskey told WCCO. Gnasdoskey told FOX 9 Karkoc is a good neighbor who keeps to himself and regularly attends church. Gnasdoskey told KSTP his neighbor was "friendly and considerate."

Neighbor David Thornely told WCCO, “He seems like a nice guy. I don’t know. I’ll have to wait and see if it’s true.”

Jewish leaders in Minnesota also reacted with shock, WCCO reported.

Associated Press reporter David Rising told MPR on the air Friday morning that Karkoc was "hiding in plain sight" for six decades, quietly raising a family with four children and working for a construction company.

The Pioneer Press has an interview with Rising for the story behind the story. Rising spent four months investigating, the newspaper reports. He uncovered evidence that Karkoc was a top commander of a Nazi SS-led Ukrainian unit that has been accused of torching villages and killing civilians. Rising obtained some documents through Freedom of Information Act requests, sometimes combing through 60- and 70-year-old paperwork, the Pioneer Press reports.

The Star Tribune has a related slideshow, including photos from the neighborhood. MPR also has a photo gallery.

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