BUENOS AIRES (Feb. 1)
Will the Bolivian government surrender Klaus Barbie, the Gestapo “butcher of Lyons” to face war crimes charges in France? That question was the focus of attention in La Paz today as a net seemed to be closing around the wanted ex-Nazi whose extradition has already been requested by the French government.
Mrs. Beate Klarsfeld, a Jewish anti-Nazi activist who was instrumental in reopening the Barbie case in France, was received today in La Paz by Bolivian Interior Minister Mario Adett Zamora. She arrived there yesterday on a mission to convince Bolivian authorities that they would discredit their country by sheltering Barbie.
BOLIVIA CAN DECIDE BARBIE’S FATE
Barbie is a Bolivian citizen, having obtained his papers under the phony name of Klaus Altmann. He is a prominent figure in Bolivia’s commercial life as owner of a shipping company and as manager, since 1968, of the Bolivian Maritime Authority. He was living in Peru until last month when France’s extradition request to the Lima government sent him back to Bolivia where he has appealed for political asylum. Bolivia does not extradite its citizens.
But Jaime Prodencio Cossio, the former Ambassador of Bolivia to Peru and a former professor of international law at La Paz University said today that Bolivia has the power to settle Barbie’s fate. The fact that he obtained his citizenship under an alias is believed to be one of the points Mrs. Klarsfeld intends to make with Bolivian authorities to show that they can extradite him in good conscience as a wanted criminal of foreign nationality.
But the former Gestapo chief for southern France who deported thousands of Jews and others during World War II, has supporters in the Bolivian capital, Paulovich, a popular columnist in the La Paz Catholic daily, “Presencia,” contended today that “Mankind in 1972 cannot be disposed to punish offenses committed 30 years ago.”