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Justice Department in Talks with Israel About Possibility of Deporting War Criminals to Israel

The U.S. Department of Justice is conducting high level talks in Israel this week about the possibility of deporting or extraditing to Israel Nazi war criminals living in the U.S.

Representing the U.S. in the talks with Israeli Attorney General Yitzhak Zamir are Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mark Richard of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Neal Sher, acting director of the Department’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI) which is responsible for investigating and prosecuting Nazi war criminals in the U.S.; and Murray Stein, of the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs.

An earlier meeting in Israel was abruptly cut off when U.S. officials refused to meet with Zamir at his office in East Jerusalem. John Russell, a Justice Department spokesman, said he did not know where in Jerusalem the current meetings are being held.

The talks are centered on Valerian Trifa, the Rumanian Orthodox Archbishop in the U.S. who was stripped of his citizenship and ordered deported for having entered the U.S. without disclosing his wartime position and activities with the Fascist and anti-Semitic Rumanian Iron Guard. However, Russell noted, the U.S. is also discussing sending other Nazi war criminals to Israel.

Under a 1950 law, Israeli courts can try persons who committed crimes against the Jewish people or crimes against humanity during the Nazi era. According to the Justice Department, the Israelis will seek to determine in each case, including Trifa’s, whether they will be able to prosecute the person under Israeli law.

(By David Friedman)A Possible First:

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