LOS ANGELES (Mar. 6)
Federal magistrate Volney Brown Jr. ruled Monday there is “abundant, probable cause” for the extradition of 85 year-old Andrija Artukovic, the former Minister of Interior in the Nazi puppet government in Croatia during World War II.
But Brown specified that Artukovic, wanted by the government of Yugoslavia in connection with the deaths of more than 750,000 persons during the war, including thousands of Jews, could only be tried for one murder, the 1941 murder of Josa Vidic, a former official in the Croatian government.
The magistrate gave the government 60 days stay on his order of extradition, allowing prosecutors to seek further evidence of killings that might warrant a change in the order. In the interim, he awaits additional data from the prosecutor in Zagreb.
Brown warned the prosecuting attorney David Nimmer, during the extradition proceedings last week that the government’s case against the ailing Artukovic was in jeopardy because the Yugoslavian indictment failed to link him with specific murders. Despite the warning, Brown announced yesterday that he was satisfied the link to Artukovic had been firmly established in the Vidic case.
Brown also rejected outright defense counsel Gary Fleischman’s request that the court appoint an official U.S. observer for the Yugoslavian proceedings to “ensure the minimum standard of justice.” He said that after the order of extradition is processed through the courts, and barring any other appeals, it will be up to Secretary of State George Shultz to review all non-judicial areas of the case before delivering Artukovic to Yugoslavian authorities for trial.
Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said Brown’s decision “marks the beginning of the end of Artukovic’s stay in the United States. It also signals to Nazi war criminals everywhere that there is no time limit, no statute of limitations, on the crimes they committed.”
Meanwhile, a federal Appeals Court in New York reserved decision on whether to uphold a U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals ruling last August that Boleslavs Maikovskis of Long Island should be deported for his war crimes. He is accused of assisting in the persecution of some 300 Latvian villagers during World War II and having lied about his past activities when gaining entry to the United States.