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New Regime in Paraguay Pledges to Find, Expel Nazi War Criminals

On the heels of the Justice Department’s announcement that another former Nazi collaborator had deported himself to Paraguay, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith reported from there that its provisional president has pledged “immediate efforts to locate, arrest and expel Nazi war criminals living in the country.”

General Andres Rodriguez made the promise in a March 3 meeting in Asuncion, the Paraguayan capital, with Rabbi Morton Rosenthal, director of the ADL’s department of Latin American affairs.

Rosenthal was accompanied to his meeting at the government palace by U.S. Ambassador Timothy Towell.

Rosenthal went to Paraguay upon learning from U.S. Rep. Bruce Morrison (D-Conn.) that Rodriguez was willing to receive information from organizations that track down Nazi war criminals.

Morrison, who is chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration, refugees and international law, was the first elected U.S. official to meet with Rodriguez.

The subcommittee has jurisdiction over the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which prosecutes Nazi war criminals in America.

Morrison was invited to Paraguay in January, before the coup that toppled Gen. Alfredo Stroessner, by opposition figures there operating under a group called the National Accord, according to his legislative aide, Paul Donnelly.

DESIRE TO CHANGE REPUTATION

Morrison went there after the coup, accompanied by former U.S. Ambassador Robert White, former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and officials of the Commission on U.S.-Latin American Relations. Babbitt and White returned before his meeting with Rodriguez.

In the meeting, Morrison brought up the main issues of concern to the U.S. government regarding Paraguay: human rights, free elections and drug enforcement.

He then added a fourth, on “Paraguay’s historic patronage of war criminals.”

Rodriguez told Morrison he “wanted to change his country’s reputation,” and expressed a willingness to receive requests on such war fugitives.

Donnelly said the congressman had been briefed on this issue by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Last month, Rosenthal told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency there might develop “a possibility that Nazis living in Paraguay might become vulnerable” in the wake of the coup. At the time, Rosenthal provided no names of any Nazis believed to be in that country.

But ADL reported March 3 that Rosenthal gave Rodriguez information from the league’s Special Task Force on Nazi War Criminals on “two Nazi war criminals who fled to Paraguay from the U.S. during the past two years.”

They are Serge Kowalchuk, who fled deportation proceedings sometime in the past two years, and George Theodorovich, who fled there in December, as the Justice Department announced last week.

OSI had asked that the two men be deported to the Soviet Union to stand trial.

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