JERUSALEM (Feb. 2)
Israel expressed “prefound regret” today over Chile’s refusal of its request to expel Nazi war criminal Walter Rauff. A Justice Ministry spokesman said Israel would continue its efforts to secure Rauff’s expulsion or extradition in order to bring to justice a man responsible for the murder of at least 250,000 Jews during World War II.
David Kimche, Director General of the Foreign Ministry, made an unannounced trip to Santiago this week to press Israel’s formal request that Chile oust Rauff. He met with the Chilean Foreign Minister, Jaime Del Valle, apparently to no avail. Del Valle announced yesterday that it would be inappropriate to expel the 77-year-old former SS Colonel inasmuch as Chile’s Supreme Court had rejected a West German request for his extradition in 1963.
Justice Ministry spokesman Denis Goldman said today. “The Ministry finds it very hard to comprehend now the Chilean government can continue to allow such a heinous war criminal to remain there without having to be brought to justice.” Rauff designed the mobile gas chambers in which an estimated quarter million Jews were put to death before the gas chambers at Auschwitz, Treblinka and other death camps became operative.
Rauff escaped from Europe after the war and has been living in Chile since the 1950′s, although he reportedly still holds a German passport. The Bonn government’s extradition request was turned down in 1963 on grounds that Chile’s statute of limitations on war crimes was in effect. According to Del Valle, it would be inappropriate to expel someone “who has lived 20 years in peace here since the Supreme Court ruling.”
Goldman accused the Chilean authorities of hiding behind a 20 year-old court decision and said Israel would not accept this as the “last word ” but would continue to do everything in its power to seek Rauff’s extradition. “The policy of the government is to pursue Walter Rauff wherever he is,” Goldman said.