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Belgian Parliamentary Body Backs Extension of Time for Nazi Criminals

A bill extending by 10 years the statute of limitations for carrying out the death sentence against major war criminals was approved yesterday, after lengthy deliberation, by the Justice Commission of the Chamber of Deputies. The bill had been drafted by the Ministry of Justice. It is still to be voted on in the Chamber.

Under the measure, the May 19, 1945, limitation for the execution of such sentences would be moved up to 1975. The bill provides for prolongation of the expiration date in cases concerning “death sentences for actions or attempted actions against the security of the State between May 19, 1940, and May 19, 1945, ” the official dates of the duration of World War II in Belgium.

The Ministry of Justice has estimated that 1,336 persons sentenced to death for major war crimes are still in hiding abroad. Most of them are said to have taken refuge in Germany, Austria and Spain, while some have taken up residence in Morocco and Egypt.

The bill provides that the King may continue the death sentences of those convicted war criminals who did not participate in denunciations of people later executed in the Nazi death camps or those who did not personally participate in assassinations.

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