SANTIAGO, Chile – The Simon Wiesenthal Center has strong evidence that a former SS member known as "Dr. Death" is in southern Chile or Argentina, a top Nazi hunter for the human rights organization said Tuesday.
Efraim Zuroff, the center's director in Israel, will fly Wednesday to the southern Chilean city of Puerto Montt, where SS doctor Aribert Heim's daughter has lived for years.
Zuroff and center Latin America director Sergio Widder will then travel to Bariloche across the Andes in Argentina on Friday.
Searchers think he's alive, Zuroff said, because a bank account with $1.6 million and other investments in Heim's name in Berlin have not been claimed by Heim's children. To do that, they would have to produce proof that Heim was dead.
Zuroff said the center has received information "that has strong potential" to help efforts to find Heim.
Heim, who would be 94, tops the center's list of most-wanted Nazi war criminals. A reward of $495,000 is being offered jointly by the center and the German and Austrian governments for information leading to his capture.
Heim, known as "Dr. Death," was indicted in Germany on charges he murdered hundreds of inmates at Mauthausen concentration camp, where he was camp doctor.
"His crimes are fully documented by himself, because he kept a log of the operations that he carried out," Zuroff said. "He tortured many inmates before he killed them at Mauthausen, and he used body parts of the people he killed as decorations."
After World War II, Heim was held for two and a half years by the United States military but was released without being tried.
He disappeared in 1962, when he was tipped off that the indictment by German authorities was imminent, according to Zuroff.
The Chilean government is helping in the investigation, Zuroff said, adding that he and Widder had a good meeting with Arturo Herrera, director of Chile's police.