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Jewish Groups Criticize Courts for Delay in Deporting Nazi War Criminals

Four major Jewish organizations have charged that federal courts and U.S. immigration agencies needlessly allow deportation proceedings against Nazi war criminals to stretch out for years.

The accusation was lodged in a friend-of-the-court brief filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York City in the case of accused war criminal Karl Linnas. The court is scheduled to hear his appeal Monday. The brief was prepared by the American Jewish Congress and signed by the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, the New York Jewish Community Relations Council, and the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs.

Linnas, found guilty of lying about his Nazi background as a member of the security forces in a concentration camp in Tartu, Estonia, from 1941 to 1943, was ordered stripped of his American citizenship in 1981. He has resisted deportation proceedings through legal appeals for more than four years.

‘TIME IS ON THE SIDE OF THE DEFENDANTS’

The brief filed by the Jewish agencies, while submitted in conjunction with the Linnas case, addresses itself exclusively to the extended length of time allowed for such proceedings. It stated that by unnecessarily prolonging the time it takes to adjudicate such cases, the courts have in effect allowed Nazis and Nazi-collaborators to find what amounts to permanent sanctuary in this country, regardless of past crimes.

It noted that more than 40 years have passed since the end of World War II. “Time is on the side of the de fendants,” the brief said. “If they delay long enough, death or the infirmities of old age will abate these prosecutions, denying the United States an adjudication of its claims.” Continuing, the brief said:

“The simple fact is that these cases are taking too long to adjudicate, that defendants such as Linnas have exploited the courts and administrative tribunals so that these bodies have become … instruments with which to deny justice.” Due process is not intended to be an obstacle to governmental action, it stated.

Indeed, the brief noted, when huge amounts of money are at stake, courts are capable of rendering quick judgements, “which are no less sound for the speed with which they are decided.” When the national security or corporate mergers are involved, or when otherwise faced with the need to expedite the handling of cases, courts act quickly, the AJCongress-prepared brief asserted.

The brief charged immigration lawyers with exploiting the court system to delay action in war crime cases. “Indeed,” the brief said, “immigration lawyers pride themselves on their ability to draw out even the most ordinary denaturalization and deportation cases.”

THE LAW’S DELAY IN SOME CASES

Among the accused war criminals listed on the brief whose cases were prolonged over a period of years were Sergei Kowalchuk, against whom charges were filed in 1977 but who is still awaiting final action; Andrija Artukovic, who was charged in 1951, but who was only deported to Yugloslavia this year; John Demjanjuk, charged in 1977, who was deported for trial in Israel last month.

In addition the brief cited Bodhan Koziy, charged in 1979, deported in 1985; Boleslavs Maikovskis, charged in 1976; Mecis Paskevicius, charged in 1977; Feodor Fedorenko, charged in 1977, deported in 1984. It also cited seven cases in which the accused war criminals died during the proceedings, and three cases in which the proceedings were suspended because of the defendant’s ill health.

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