10/03/2006

Robert Maxwell 'investigated for war crimes'

Media tycoon Robert Maxwell was being investigated for war crimes at the time of his death fifteen years ago, it has been claimed.

A report in the 'Independent' cited a file by the Metropolitan Police, released under the Freedom of Information Act, which showed that a case on Maxwell was being prepared for the Crown Prosecution Service.

According to the Independent, detectives had begun questioning members of Maxwell's platoon over claims that he shot dead a German civilian while serving as a captain in the British Army during World War II.

The incident is alleged to have taken place in a German town in 1945. The details were first mentioned in Joe Haines biography of Maxwell, which was published in 1988. The book published a letter Maxwell wrote to his wife about the incident. In the letter, Maxwell said that he had summoned the town mayor and ordered him to tell the German soldiers to surrender. The major returned and said they had agreed to the demands, Maxwell said, but as the troops were marching off, a German tank opened fire on them. "Luckily, he missed, so I shot the mayor and withdrew," Maxwell wrote.

An investigation was launched following the introduction of the War Crimes Act in 1991.

The investigation was still, apparently, ongoing when Maxwell died in 1991. The media tycoon drowned in mysterious circumstances while on holiday on his yacht, the Lady Ghislane, which was cruising off the Canary Islands. A verdict of accidental drowning was recorded.

The investigation into the alleged wartime shooting was closed shortly after Maxwell's death.

After Maxwell's death, it emerged that he had plundered an estimated £400 million from the Mirror Group pensions' fund.

(KMcA/GB)


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