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Special to the JTA Justice Department Files Motion to Deport Artukovic

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A motion was filed by the Justice Department yesterday to deport alleged Nazi war criminal Andrija Artukovic, Minister of Interior and Justice in the Nazi-sponsored state of Croatia during World War II. Walter J. Rockler, director of the of the office of special investigations criminal division of the Justice Department, said that his office filed in the U.S. Immigration Courts in Los Angeles a motion to reconsider and revoke the stay of deportation granted to Artukovic.

The government’s case against Artukovic, now 80, began 28 years ago and is the oldest deportation case against an alleged Nazi war criminal living in the United States, officials said.

He was ordered deported from the United States in August 1951, and concurrently the Yugoslav government has been seeking his extradition. Following extended legal proceedings, he obtained a stay of deportation that has been in effect since May 1959. A resident of Surfride, Calif., Artukovic entered the United States in 1948. He had first made his way to Germany, the Ireland, using an alias.

As Minister of Interior of the Nazi puppet state of Croatia, Artukovic is accused of responsibility for some 200,000 deaths, according to official U.S. government estimates. Other sources hold him responsible for the murder of some 750,000 Yugoslavs, mostly Serbs and Jews. Listed as among the victims of his actions are 1720 specific Jewish men, women and children.

Rockler was appointed head of the special investigations office last May after the Justice Department revamped its special litigation unit which had been directed by Martin Mendelsohn under the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The special unit had been set up in 1977 after prodding from Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman (D. NY) and former Rep. Joshua Eilberg (D. Pa.) to create a specific structure for dealing with Nazi war criminal cases.

Twelve denaturalization and deportation cases had been started before the special unit was initiated and no single new case has since been started. The special unit indicated that an announcement of several new cases will be forthcoming this month.

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