JERUSALEM (Jun. 16)
Coalition Knesset members of all political persuasions have expressed strong opposition to the extradition of Tuvya Schwartz, an immigrant from the United States who is wanted in California for the alleged fire-bombing of a car that belonged to the brother of a suspected Nazi war criminal. Justice Minister Haim Zadok told the Knesset today that he has returned California’s extradition request to Sacramento because it was incomplete and has asked for supplementary information.
Schwartz, 23, was arrested in Los Angeles on Jan. 29, 1975, along with a friend, David Whitlaw. Both were accused of fire-bombing the car of John Artukovic, a San Francisco contractor, whose brother, Andrea Artukovic, is believed to have served as Interior Minister of the Nazi puppet state of Croatia during World War II. The latter is held responsible for mass deportations of Jews and others. Whitlaw was tried and sentenced to a prison term. Schwartz jumped bail the day after his arrest and fled to Israel where he has since married and joined the army. He is an Israeli citizen residing in Beersheba.
According to Israeli law, the courts must decide whether a person is extraditable. The Justice Minister, however, makes the decision as to whether to bring a case before the courts and has the authority to reverse the court’s decision either for or against extradition. Several MKs urged Zadok today not to bring the Schwartz case to the courts. Avraham Melamed, of the National Religious Party, said that if Schwartz was returned to California, Israel would, in effect, be condemning itself for the 1961 kidnapping of Adolf Eichmann from Argentina. He said that while Israel is a state governed by law, its sensitivity to Nazi crimes allowed flexibility of the law. The act of which Schwartz was accused, was intended to remind the world of Nazi crimes, Melamed claimed.
Hillel Seidel, of the Independent Liberal Party, said Israel should extradite Schwartz only if the U.S. extradites to Israel some 75 Nazi war criminals who, according to Seidel, now freely live there. Haika Grossman, of Mapam, said it was paradoxical that the U.S. has refused to extradite Andrea Artukovic to Yugoslavia on grounds that he is wanted there for political crimes while the crime attributed to Schwartz was, if anything, also political.