SYDNEY, Australia (Jul. 18)
The New Zealand government has begun an investigation to find out if suspected Nazi war criminals are living in that country, with deportation or extradition possible if any are found.
New Zealand Attorney General Paul East announced that the government has employed three researchers to sift through available information in New Zealand and Australia. A wider investigation will follow, if warranted, to include Eastern and Central European sources, East said.
A budget of $120,000 has been allocated for the first year’s work.
The announcement came 16 months after the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center released a list of suspected war criminals compiled from various international sources. Some might have found haven in New Zealand or Australia.
The government has not said what legislative action would be taken if war criminals are found. An official said deportation or extradition are the most likely options.
Wendy Ross, president of the New Zealand Jewish Council, said the Jewish community is satisfied with the government’s initiative.
Efraim Zuroff, director of the Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, issued a statement welcoming New Zealand’s announcement. “It is unthinkable that New Zealand afford a haven for the perpetrators of the Holocaust,” he said.