A magistrate ordered a 77-year-old man to be tried for Nazi murders in what will be Britain's first war crimes trial.

Anthony Sawoniuk is charged with killing four Jews in late 1942 in his hometown of Domachevo, which was then in German-occupied Byelorussia (now Belarus).An earlier war crimes case, held under a controversial act of parliament passed in 1991, collapsed in 1996 when the defendant Szymon Serafinowicz was declared mentally unfit to stand trial.

Serafinowicz died last year at 87. Sawoniuk is younger and looks more fit, although he is partially deaf.

The white-haired former railway worker looked strained and anxious at Friday's hearing in a central London court, although he was casually dressed in a brown jacket and pink polo shirt.

Sawoniuk is charged with killing two unnamed "Jewesses," a "Jew known as Mir Barlas" and a "Jew known as Schlenko" in Domachevo, which is now in Poland. The town is on the border of Belarus and Poland and has passed back and forth between the two countries repeatedly as boundaries changed.

Following a committal hearing lasting around two months, magistrate Graham Parkinson ruled there was not enough evidence to try Sawoniuk on a fifth murder charge.

The defendant was granted bail and is due to appear at London's Cen-tral Criminal Court to make his plea on July 24. He has denied the charges against him.

Sawoniuk's given name is Andrzej, but he anglicized it to Anthony after he came to Britain. He has lived in London's working-class East End for many years.

He was charged with war crimes last year after investigations by a special police War Crimes Unit, set up after the 1991 act was forced through parliament in the face of opposition from the upper house.