Judge Criticized for Ruling That a War Criminal is ‘not Deportable’
Menu JTA Search

Judge Criticized for Ruling That a War Criminal is ‘not Deportable’

Download PDF for this date

Peggy Tishman, the newly-elected president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, deplored a ruling by a federal immigration judge that alleged Nazi war criminal Boleslavs Maikovskis was “not deportable. “

Maikovskis, 76, was charged with failing to disclose, when he entered the United States in 1951, that he had been a member of the Latvian police guard which, the Justice Department has charged, had exterminated about 20,000 Latvian Jews and other Latvian citizens. Maikovskis had declared, on his entry to this country, that he had been a bookkeeper during World War II, when Latvia was occupied by the Germans.

In 1965 he was convicted in absentia for war crimes, by a Soviet court in Riga, and sentenced to death.

The ruling last Wednesday by Judge Francis Lyons in Manhattan Federal Court, will allow Maikovskis, a retired carpenter who now lives in Mineola, Long Island, to remain in the U.S. Neil Sher, acting director of the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, said in Washington that his office was considering an appeal against Lyons’ ruling.


The judge held that Maikovskis’ past conduct did not rise to the “level of depravity” needed to make his alleged crimes “contrary to human decency.” Lyons held that the arrest of villagers in the Latvian town of Audrini “and the burning of the village under orders of the German invaders of Latvia was a reprisal against the killing of one or more Latvian police officers.”

The Justice Department had charged that 15,000 residents, including all residents of Audrini, eventually were killed.

Lyons held also that there had been “no suggestion of racist motivation in that atrocity,” the killing of all Audrini residents. The judge also declared that he did not believe the witnesses who had testified against Maikovskis through depositions taken in the Soviet Union and he held that the killings were done under orders and not racially motivated.


Ms. Tishman pointed to the federal government’s success six weeks ago in obtaining a deportation order against Karl Linnas, another alleged Nazi war criminal living in Greenville, Long Island. She said, “I hope it is the Linnas decision that will serve as a precedent for other immigration judges to follow.”

She added that “we must work to ensure that the Maikovskis’ ruling does not have a ‘chilling effect’ on other cases of this nature. To this end we heartily support the Justice Department’s evident intention to appeal this ruling as soon as possible to the Board of Immigration Appeals. “

Calling Lyons’ ruling “in itself dismaying,” Ms. Tishman declared that “the fact that the proceedings that must be followed are so involved that seven years have elapsed since this case was first initiated, is intolerable.” She said the ruling “points up the need for new legislation to condense the entire procedure and devise some way of assuring that justice is done before all the victims or their persecutors are gone from the scene.”

Ms. Tishman also said she believed the ruling by Lyons that an alleged war criminal was “not deportable,” after a hearing “with as much evidence as was presented in this case, ” was apparently the first of its kind.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund