PARIS (Nov. 25)
Archbishop Valerian Trifa has appealed to an administrative court in Lisbon the decision by the Portuguese government not to grant him resident’s status and to have him expelled. Trifa’s attorney charged that the government’s decision was taken “solely on the basis of newspaper reports.”
Trifa, the 70-year-old former head of the Rumanian Orthodox Church in America, went to Portugal on a deportation order from the United States. That concluded a nine-year legal effort in the U.S. to deport Trifa for lying to conceal his part in the persecution of Jews and collaboration with the Nazis during World War II.
Trifa was a leading figure in the fascist Rumanian Iron Guard and acted as editor of an anti-Semitic newspaper that advocated persecution of Jews in Rumania from 1936 to 1941. Trifa is also accused of leading a pogrom against the Jews in Rumania that resulted in the deaths of dozens of Jews.
According to Trifa’s lawyer in Portugal, the government there has failed to conduct an investigation of the charges against him. The lawyer asked the court to rule against Trifa’s deportation at least “until the Portuguese authorities establish the facts on their own.”
Such a procedure, if adopted by the court, could take years. The court has 30 days to hand down its ruling. Should it turn down the prelate’s request, Trifa could still appeal to the Supreme Court.
As far as can be determined, should Trifa be forced to leave Portugal, he has nowhere to go. His lawyers said no country has accepted to grant him even a temporary visa and expelling him would be tantamount to a death sentence.