PARIS (Jan. 17)
The Syrian government, continuing to insist it has no knowledge of the whereabouts of wanted Nazi war criminal Alois Brunner, turned down the extradition request made by France in a formal submission to Damascus on Dec. 27.
Brunner, known to have lived in Syria for more than 30 years, was sentenced to death in absentia in France in 1954 for war crimes.
The Nazi, a top aide to Adolf Eichmann, was responsible for the wartime deportations of tens of thousands of Jews from France, Germany, Austria and Greece to death camps in Eastern Europe.
The latest extradition request charges Brunner, 76, with crimes against humanity which, unlike war crimes, are not subject to a statute of limitations.
The charges are based on new documents produced by Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld, the French lawyer responsible for the trial and conviction of Klaus Barbie, who was known as the “Butcher of Lyon.”
The Syrian minister of information, Mohammad Salman, was quoted by Le Monde on Saturday as saying of Brunner, “We have never heard about this man.”
The minister added, “We are surprised that France has asked for his extradition after we told the West German authorities a few years ago that this man is not in Damascus or in Syria.”
Le Monde said that Brunner may have left Damascus last October after President Kurt Waldheim of Austria visited there and renewed Austria’s extradition request.