PHILADELPHIA (Jul. 19)
The prolonged legal process of appeals may delay for years the deportation of Serge Kowalchuk, a 65 year-old retired tailor of Ukrainian origin who allegedly collaborated with the Nazis in the mass murder of Jews during World War II.
Kowalchuk, who stood trial here in 1981 on charges brought by the Justice Department, was found guilty of having lied about his past activities when he obtained admission to the United States as a displaced person in 1950 and naturalization in 1960. Federal District Court Judge John Fullam ruled on July I that Kowalchuk be stripped of his U.S. citizenship.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Riley, Kowalchuk is expected to appeal Fullam’s decision, which could take “a few months.” Another appeal, to the Supreme Court, could follow. If both appeals fail, the government can begin deportation proceedings.
But, Riley said, that would only bring Kowalchuk’s case back to the appeals courts. “At best, if everything runs smoothly and expeditiously, I would expect that at least two or three years will pass before Kowalchuk is deported,” the U.S. Attorney said.
OSI PRESENTED EVIDENCE
At his trial two years ago, the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI) presented evidence that Kowalchuk assisted the Nazi-controlled Ukrainian militia in killing 5,000 Jews in a brickyard near his home in Lyubomyl in the Ukraine in October, 1942. Kowalchuk admitted that he had lied about his membership in the militia to obtain entry into the U.S. but insisted that he never collaborated with the Nazis as the Justice Department charged.
According to the defendant, he worked for the militia as a minor clerk and made out duty rosters. He denied having had any knowledge of the brickyard massacre. He said he lied to the U.S. immigration authorities to protect relatives still living in the Soviet Union.
JUDGE’S RULING IS AMBIGUOUS
Judge Fullam’s ruling was ambiguous as to the degree of Kowalchuk’s complicity. He expressed doubt that the defendant had actually participated in the killings but found that he must have known of the harsh measures the militia was taking against Jews. According to Fullam, testimony by both the defense and the prosecution was “uncorroborated by any other evidence” and there fore no conclusions could be drawn.
The judge also noted that Kowalchuk had shown no anti-Semitic behavior since he entered the U.S. But he ordered him nevertheless, to surrender his naturalization documents.