NEW YORK (Jan. 26)
Accused Rumanian war criminal Archbishop Valerian Trifa remains at liberty in Portugal, according to the World Jewish Congress, which today reported that it has traced him to an apartment in the Lisbon suburb of Estoril.
Sources in the Rumanian Orthodox Church hierarchy in the U.S. have confirmed Trifa’s whereabouts to the WJC. Confirmation of Trifa’s continued presence in Portugal comes in the wake of widespread speculation that he might have slipped into Spain.
Trifa, 71, arrived in Portugal in August 1984, after an order of deportation was obtained against him by the U.S. Department of Justice, which had charged the self-confessed former leader in the fascist Rumanian Iron Guard with complicity in a 1941 pogrom against the Jews of Bucharest.
In that rampage, dozens of synagogues were destroyed and Jewish bodies were mutilated in the city’s slaughterhouses and stamped with the inscription “kosher meat.”
After the war, Trifa escaped to the United States, and eventually came to head the Rumanian Orthodox Episcopate of North America.
PORTUGUESE AUTHORITIES EMBARRASSED
Following Trifa’s arrival in Portugal in 1984, embarrassed Portuguese authorities insisted that they had been unaware of his past at the time they issued his travel visa.
After WJC president Edgar Bronfman cabled Prime Minister Mario Soares, urging that his government “take the necessary steps to insure the removal of this notorious individual from your country,” the Portuguese Minister of Internal Affairs intervened to deny Trifa’s petition for permanent residence. Trifa appealed the decision.
The WJC also revealed today that after his deportation, Trifa was stripped of his social security benefits by the U.S. government. According to the WJC, however, Trifa still receives a pension from his U.S.-based church and draws additional income from his personal investments.