LIMA (Feb. 23)
While not denying that Klaus Altmann is indeed the wanted Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, Bolivian authorities last night refused entry to Mrs. Beate Klarsfeld and a Jewish eye-witness to Barbie’s crimes who planned to confront the ex-gestapo chief of Lyons in La Paz. Two prominent Bolivian lawyers meanwhile Issued a joint statement arguing against the extradition of Barbie to France where he is wanted on war crimes charges.
Mrs. Klarsfeld, a German anti-Nazi and Mrs. Its Halaunbrenner, a French Jew, who says she would recognize Barbie on sight, left Paris Sunday for Lima with the intention of going to La Paz. But they were prevented from boarding a plane for La Paz here last night on the grounds that they had no visas, although French tourists normally do not require a visa to enter Bolivia. The local Bolivian Consulate refused to grant them visas and the Bolivian authorities alerted the airline to bar them from the La Paz flight.
Mrs. Klarsfeld is carrying copies of documents which French military judges obtained from the West German Attorney General in Munich last week which reportedly make positive identification of Altmann as the “butcher of Lyons.” Mrs. Halaunbrenner says that on Oct. 24, 1943, she begged Barbie on her knees not to deport her husband and received a blow on the head with a rifle butt. Later, she says, Barbie “liquidated” a Jewish children’s colony where she had sent her three children for safety and deported them all to death camps in Eastern Europe.
Although evidence that Altmann is Barbie seems overwhelming. Bolivian authorities have taken the view that since the German businessman is a citizen of Bolivia he cannot be extradited, even if he obtained his citizenship falsely under an alias. That view was contained in a Joint statement issued in La Paz yesterday by the political lawyer, Constantino Carrion and his colleague, Daniel Imana, who is a candidate for the presidency of the Bolivian Lawyers Association.
They claimed that the accusations of genocide against Barbie-Altmann were not strong enough to warrant his extradition and that, moreover, it would be a contravention of Bolivian law which provides political asylum for the persons and property of foreigners who respect the nation’s laws and constitution. The two lawyers also claimed that under Bolivian law, a statute of limitations is in effect on the crimes allegedly committed by Barbie.