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Argentina Won’t Extradite Suspected Dutch War Criminal

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A Dutchman accused of wartime crimes cannot be extradited from Argentina because he was already sentenced in his native Holland after World War II.

Jan Olij, 68, who was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment for his crimes by a Dutch special tribunal, will not be extradited to the Netherlands, an Argentine court has decided.

Under Argentine law, a person sentenced in absentia is not subject to extradition from Argentina, according to information Argentine officials told Rabbi Morton Rosenthal, director of Latin American affairs for the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.

Rosenthal went to Argentina in November with a list of three Dutchmen, including Olij, being sought in the Netherlands for Nazi war crimes.

Both the ADL and Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal spent considerable effort trying to persuade the Dutch to request Olij’s extradition and to convince the Argentine authorities to comply with that request.

However, Rosenthal said Sunday in New York that it is possible that Olij and another Dutchman being sought in Argentina will be subject to expulsion from the country once their Argentine citizenship is revoked. They could then be arrested in some other country.

Rosenthal said the Argentine government is initiating steps to revoke Olij’s citizenship. The ADL, through its task force on Nazi war criminals, is seeking additional witnesses to Olij’s crimes who could testify at denaturalization proceedings.

KIPP ALSO CONVICTED IN ABSENTIA

Rosenthal said that whereas “this is far less than ideal, I am hopeful that Dutch authorities will cooperate in finding additional witnesses and that Olij’s Argentine citizenship will be revoked.”

Olij was arrested after World War II and stood trial for his crimes. But he managed to escape during the course of the trial and eventually reached Argentina, where he became a citizen.

He was sentenced in absentia July 22, 1949, to 20 years for aiding the enemy.

He was arrested last Dec. 7 in a suburb of Buenos Aires, after two Dutch journalists went to Argentina in September and located him.

At the time of his arrest, Olij also informed Argentine authorities that one of the men they sought, Bernardus Riphagen, had left the country years before.

Interpol subsequently reported Riphagen died in Switzerland 15 years earlier.

Legally, both Olij and Abraham Kipp, the third on Rosenthal’s list, stood trial for their crimes, albeit in absentia. Kipp, who escaped before his trial began, was sentenced to death in absentia.

Olij worked in Argentina as a policeman as well as for the Argentine state oil company. He offered no resistance when arrested, instead expressing “surprise that he had been able to live free so long,” Rosenthal said.

Kipp is reported missing, and authorities are still looking for him.

(JTA staff writer Susan Birnbaum in New York contributed to this report.)

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