TORONTO (Dec. 19)
Michael Pawlowski, a 72-year-old resident of Renfrew, Ontario, was charged Monday with eight counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the deaths of 410 Jews and 80 Poles during World War II.
He is the second person to be charged under Canada’s war crimes law, which permits the prosecution of war criminals who are residents of Canada.
According to Bill Hobson, head of the Justice Department’s war crimes investigation unit, Pawlowski is alleged to have murdered 400 Jews in the hamlet of Snov, another 10 who escaped the first massacre and 80 Poles living in the village of Yeskovichi, in the Minsk region of his native Byelorussia, in 1942.
The five-page indictment, filed in the Supreme Court of Ontario, does not specify whether Pawlowski was serving in a military unit at the time.
If convicted, the charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years each.
Jewish organizations that have long urged government action against Nazi war criminals living in Canada hailed the government’s move to bring Pawlowski to justice.
“This charge is a very important step in the process of prosecuting war criminals in Canada,” Les Scheininger, president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said Monday, adding it was “an indication of the seriousness with which the government views this issue.”
SECOND WAR CRIMES ARREST
Moishe Smith, president of B’nai Brith Canada, said the new war crimes prosecution “marks a significant advance in the quest for justice for Nazi war crimes suspects resident in Canada.”
The arrest is the second under Canada’s 2-year-old war crimes legislation, Bill C-71, which permits trials in Canada for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Amendments to the Criminal Code were introduced in September 1987, following the report of a royal commission headed by Justice Jules Deschenes of the Quebec Superior Court identifying 20 prime suspects who found refuge in Canada after World War II.
Pawlowski has been living with his wife, Mary, in the Renfrew area, 65 miles west of Ottawa, since his arrival in Canada in 1951. He became a citizen five years later.
Neighbors described Pawlowski as a popular man who loves gardening and attends church at least once a week.
In Canada’s other war crimes case, Imre Finta, 77, is currently standing trial in Toronto, where he has pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping, forcible confinement and robbery of 8,617 Hungarian Jews in the spring of 1944.
Finta is also charged with manslaughter in the deaths of an unspecified number of deportees who died in overloaded boxcars before reaching Auschwitz.
Denaturalization proceedings are pending against Jacob Luitjens, a retired botany lecturer at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, whom a Dutch court convicted in absentia after the war for collaborating with the enemy.