RIO DE JANEIRO (Jun. 13)
Alleged Nazi war criminal Gustav Franz Wagner was in the infirmary of the federal prison in Brasilia today under close watch after an unsuccessful suicide attempt. A police medical spokesman said his health was satisfactory.
A request for Wagner’s extradition has already been filed by Israel and similar requests are pending from the governments of Austria, West Germany and Poland which say they will file after receiving the necessary documentation. Wagner, who has lived in Sao Paulo since 1950, was identified recently by Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal as the former deputy commander of the notorious Treblinka and Sobibor concentration camps. He has denied the charge.
His attorneys, one of them of Arab extraction, have filed a writ of habeus corpus with the federal Supreme Court in Brasilia. They are asking for Wagner’s release from detention and rejection of all extradition requests. The lawyers claim that whatever Wagner may have done, he acted solely as a German patriot. “There was only one man in Nazi Germany responsible for the war crimes: Hitler,” the lawyers contended. They charged that Jews have created a publicity machine that distorts the facts about Wagner.
Meanwhile, the Rio branch of the Association of Polish Resistance Fighters has called for Wagner’s extradition to Poland on grounds that the law requires that he stand trial in “the territory where he committed his crimes.” Inasmuch as Israel has filed the first official extradition request it is expected to be acted on first by the federal Supreme Court.