Arnold Meri, 89, a decorated Red Army veteran charged with genocide for deporting hundreds of his Estonian countrymen to Siberia in 1949, died Friday. He was 89.
Meri, a former Communist Party official and the cousin of the late Estonian President Lennart Meri, died at his home in Tallinn, Estonia, his family said Saturday.
In 2007, Estonian prosecutors charged Meri with genocide, claiming he oversaw the roundup and deportation of 251 civilians on the island of Hiiumaa, 90 miles west of Tallinn, in March 1949.
During that month, Soviet authorities organized large deportations in Estonia and its Baltic neighbors Latvia and Lithuania of people considered to be enemies of the Soviet Union.
During his trial, Meri acknowledged taking part in the deportations but pleaded not guilty to genocide, claiming he was just carrying out orders as a civil servant. The case had not been completed at the time of his death.