WASHINGTON (Dec. 19)
A federal appeals court this week affirmed an earlier ruling blocking the U.S. government from deporting a Cincinnati man who admitted serving as a guard at a Nazi labor camp in western Germany.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on Tuesday rejected the government’s appeal of a ruling by a three-judge panel of the court in September.
The panel had barred the deportation of Leonid Petkiewytsch, 68, who admitted having served at the Kiel-Hassee labor camp when he applied for U.S. citizenship. He had been living in America on an immigrant visa since 1955.
The panel said the government had failed to prove that Petkiewytsch had abused prisoners.
Few Jews were at the Kiel-Hassee camp because inmates there were serving sentences for Nazi crimes other than being Jewish, a Justice Department official explained. The case marks the first time the U.S. government has tried to deport a guard at such a labor camp, the official said.
The U.S. government has yet to decide whether to appeal this week’s ruling to the Supreme Court, the official said.
If it does appeal, it will argue that the appeal, it will argue that the appeals court erred in interpreting the so-called 1978 Holtzman Amendment, which allows the government to deport former alleged Nazis.
The court decided that Petkiewytsch was not a “full-fledged Nazi,” the official said. But the congressional statute only requires alleged former Nazis to have “ordered, incited or otherwise participated” in persecution, the official said.