Justice Department Acts to Improve Hunt. Prosecution of War Criminals

Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman (D. NY), chairman of the House judiciary subcommittee dealing with investigations of Nazi war criminals living in the United States, expressed satisfaction with the Justice Department’s actions to improve its hunt and prosecution of the criminals.

The Department’s Associate Attorney General, Michael Egan, agreed last week to meet fully the requirements the subcommittee had specified as essential for adequate investigation, long a sore point with members of Congress frustrated by slow and limited activities by the federal government.

Egan announced that the special investigation unit has been transferred from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to the criminal division of the Justice Department. The Department will fund the unit with the $2 million appropriated for this fiscal year for the investigations instead of the $900,000 the INS allocated to the unit.

Of this amount, only $241,000 was spent is the first half of this year. In addition, the Justice Department will ask for authorization of $2 million for the investigations in fiscal year 1980 starting Oct. I.

NET RESULT OF MORE FUNDING

The net result of this additional funding is that the investigation unit, which now consists of 13 persons, will have 38 lawyers, investigators and other personnel in the remainder of this year and in the new year. The number of investigators will be increased from two to 16 and they will be augmented by three historians. Thus, by next autumn, 10 lawyers and 21 investigators and historians will be engaged in the hunt and prosecution of Nazis living in the U.S. who are alleged to be war criminals.

At present, 12 cases are in litigation and 175 more require further intensive investigation, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was informed by the subcommittee. No new cases had been filed since August 1977.

Following Egan’s statement on the new federal commitments, Holtzman said she was “gratified that the Justice Department is committed to fully funding and staffing the special litigation unit and to removing bureaucratic obstacles which have hindered its effectiveness. This represents the most promising development since the unit was developed in 1977. If the Department follows through on its commitments, the result will be the most concentrated and intensive effort since World War II to bring Nazi war criminals to justice.”

She added: “At least on paper we have won There is still room for obstruction but I am satisfied.”

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