Brazil’s Supreme Court Postpones Hearing on Stangl Extradition

Brazil’s highest tribunal, the Supreme Court, today postponed 10 to 14 days its scheduled hearings on three petitions from foreign governments — Poland, West Germany and Austria — for the extradition of Franz Paul Stangl, the former Nazi wanted in those lands for trial on war crimes charges. He is accused of having been responsible for the murder of about 70,000 Jews in the Treblinka and Sobibor concentration camps, where he had served as the Nazi regime’s commandant.

The high tribunal postponed its hearings on the request of the Government’s chief prosecutor who had asked for more time to study and analyze the very bulky documentation presented by the Governments of Poland and West Germany. The documents from both those countries, the prosecutor told the court, had arrived here only a few days ago, and much more time was needed for their study before Poland’s and West Germany’s extradition petitions could be supported through the evidence sent here in the Stangl case from Warsaw and Bonn.

In ruling on the postponement, the court also decided that all three governmental petitions for Stangl’s extradition would be considered at a single proceeding. The Austrian documentation the prosecutor said, was ready for presentation now. Stangl had originally been ordered by the Supreme Court to be detained for the maximum legal period, which expires next Sunday. But the tribunal found a legal technicality for extending the detention period by two more weeks. Stangl had been arrested at Sao Paulo on March 2.

STANGL REPORTED HOPING HE WILL BE EXTRADITED TO AUSTRIA

It was learned here today from excellent sources that Stangl himself hopes he will not be freed in Brazil, and would be extradited to Austria. He was said to fear “Jewish revenge” and efforts to assassinate him if he were released here. On the other hand, it was said by these sources, he would prefer extradition to Austria — rather than to Poland or West Germany — because the Austrian accusation is limited to a charge that he had participated in a Nazi euthanasia program, making no mention of his command position at Treblinka and Sobibor. He was reported to hold the belief that, in Austria, he would get off with a light sentence, if tried and convicted there.

Stangl’s newly-appointed attorney, named as defense counsel by the court after his three former defense attorneys had withdrawn from the case, indicated to the court today that he would call for the man’s acquittal on the grounds that Brazil’s legal code sets a statute of limitation of 20 years on prosecution of the crimes of which Stangl is accused. Stangl’s new attorney, Xavier de Albuquerque, is a professor at the University of Brazil. The man’s three former attorneys were well-known and very expensive lawyers, and there had been much speculation here about who had retained the prestigious defense battery and who had undertaken the cost of that private defense.

Prof. Albuquerque’s claim that the statute of limitations bars Stangl’s extradition is supported by the Supreme Court’s former chief justice. Nelson Hungria, and by Brazil’s representative on the United Nations Human Rights Commission, Carlos Dunshee de Abranches. An article by the latter, published here today, invoked the statute of limitations on behalf of Stangl. Mr. Hungria made his position on that point clear in a statement three weeks ago. Mr. Hungria’s statement garnered considerable interest among attorneys here because he had been the author of Brazil’s current penal code. Mr. Hungria had been retired from his high judicial post by Brazil’s new national government, and is now on pension.

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