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Koziy Sanctuary in Costa Rica

A Ukrainian post-war emigre to the United States whose background as a Nazi collaborator was confirmed by U.S. federal court has received a temporary residency visa in Costa Rica, according to a report in the Sept. 20 edition of The Ukrainian Weekly, datelined San Jose, Costa Rica.

Bohdan Koziy fled to Costa Rica from the U.S. about three years ago to avoid impending deportation to the Soviet Union, where he is himself accused of the deportations and killings of Soviet (Ukrainian) citizens in World War II.

The Costa Rican Minister of the Interior, Ronaldo Ramirez, in announcing that Koziy and his wife, Yaroslava, had been granted the visas, expressed doubt about the sufficiency of the evidence against Koziy presented by the Soviets. “His supposed authorship of crimes against Jews has not been demonstrated,” Ramirez said, adding that Koziy had not broken any Costa Rican laws and, therefore, the Costa Rican government had no reason to deport him.

On Aug. 14, 1985, NBC Nightly News revealed that Koziy was in Costa Rica, where he was reported living in a luxurious hacienda. On Sept. 14, 1985, The New York Times, in an article titled “Costa Rica’s Image as Haven Fading,” reported that Koziy had been in that country since October 1984.

Koziy had owned the Flying Cloud Motel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which he reportedly sold.

SOME STARTLING DEVELOPMENTS

In the report in The Ukrainian Weekly, Ramirez failed to mention any American findings against Koziy — his age has been reported as both 64 and 67 — who was stripped of his U.S. citizenship in March 1982 for having lied about his wartime activities when he entered the U.S. in 1949. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1956.

Even more startling about the Costa Rican move to grant Koziy temporary residence are previous moves by the Costa Rican government itself to deport him. In August 1986, Costan Rican Deputy Interior Minister Alvara Ramos announced that the government was seeking a court order to expel Koziy.

Then, in March of this year, Koziy was ordered extradited to the Soviet Union by the Costa Rican Superior Penal Tribunal of Alajuela. At that time, the public prosecutor of San Jose said that the court’s extradition ruling could not be appealed.

In 1979, the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI) had filed a complaint seeking Koziy’s denaturalization, which was followed by the 1982 trial in Federal District Court in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Former OSI director Allan Ryan Jr., in his book “Quiet Neighbors,” described Koziy as a member of the Ukrainian police auxiliary in Stanislau that operated under German direction during the war. His identity and occupation were corroborated by German insurance documents found.

At his trial, the OSI presented, on videotape, several Soviet and Polish witnesses who testified that they had known Koziy. They described his role in the killing of Stanislau’s Jews, particularly his singling out of Jewish children as victims. Their descriptions were graphic and horrifying.

Eli Rosenbaum, who was a prosecutor for the OSI during Koziy’s trial in Florida, said, “What is doubly offensive is not only that the Costa Rican government is not extraditing him to stand trial in the Soviet Union, as its own courts have authorized, but they are not even moving to expel him from Costa Rica. Now the Interior Minister intercedes after all these proceedings and substitutes his own judgment that there is insufficient evidence. That’s utterly fantastic. What more would he like to see?”

Ruben Robles, Ministerial Consul of the Costa Rican Embassy in Washington, told JTA that Ramirez granted the temporary visa because the extradition order is still in process of execution. “Extradition proceedings were started in the courts. Until final court notification regarding his extradition is taken, he (Koziy) may remain.”

In 1982, West Germany refused to acquiesce to a Justice Department request to extradite Koziy from the U.S. and prosecute him despite conclusive evidence that Koziy had killed a four-year-old Jewish girl.

In August 1986, Kalman Sultanik, vice president of the World Jewish Congress and chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council’s Committee on Anti-Semitism, released Justice Department documents indicating that the West German government declined the American request despite agreeing with American authorities that the child had been murdered by Koziy.

A CHILD WAS MURDERED

At Koziy’s 1982 trial, eyewitnesses described Koziy’s snatching of Monica Singer, the four-year-old daughter of a local Jewish doctor, and his taking her to the police station. The witnesses described her crying, “Mother, he’s going to shoot me,” and “I want to live.” Koziy took out his pistol; her mother turned her head.

In July 1982, the OSI wrote to the West German Ministry of Justice, suggesting that Koziy be extradited for “personally and single-handedly” murdering the girl “by shooting her at point-blank range.” In the same letter, the OSI refers to Koziy actively participating in the murders of members of another Jewish family.

The West German Foreign Office declined the American request in a diplomatic note to the American Embassy in Bonn on March 28, 1983. The note, refusing “to initiate extradition proceedings in this case,” nevertheless conceded “There is no doubt as to Koziy’s participation in the two aforementioned shooting incidents.”

The West German government described the crimes as “manslaughter” rather than “murder” because the killings could not demonstrate “cruelty, iniquity, lust for murder, and base motives.” Therefore, the German document said, the crimes were no longer prosecutable because the statute of limitations on them had run out in the spring of 1960.

“Cruelty would exist only if the perpetrator, beyond the purpose of executing the killings, had imposed special pain or torture on the victims out of a mentality entirely devoid of feeling or mercy… The fact that one of the victims was a four-year-old child in itself does not suffice to establish a determination of a cruel or underhanded killing… The available documents do not show any indications that, according to the meaning of the law, Koziy acted out of a lust for murder.”

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