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Court Paves Way for Trial of Alleged Nazi in Australia

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An Australian court has rejected the last appeal by accused Nazi Ivan Polyukhovich, paving the way for him to stand trial for war crimes.

Polyukhovich is accused of a role in the deaths of 850 Jewish people in the Ukraine between August and September 1942. He was charged under Australia’s War Crimes Act with 24 counts of murder.

His lawyer told the Adelaide court that a trial would be an abuse of process, due partly to allegedly “unreliable” witnesses and partly because of the long time which elapsed between the alleged crimes and the filing of charges.

All evidence and argument during the last hearing was suppressed on the grounds that it might affect a jury in the criminal trial.

Australia lids a judicial process in which an accused first stands before a judge in a committal hearing to see if there is probable cause for a jury trial. The committal hearing can be as long as the regular trial and hear the same evidence.

Polyukhovich’s committal hearing opened in October 1991 after months of delay.

The judge at this latest hearing accepted the defense’s appeal relating to a charge that Polyukhovich murdered two Jewish youths.

He also ruled that a charge that Polyukhovich murdered three other Jewish adults should be dealt with at a different trial than the one considering the mass murder and other charges.

Justice Brian Cox criticized the quality of interpretation of evidence at Polyukhovich’s committal hearing, but accepted that the accused had still to answer charges on the mass killing and six individual murders.

Polyukhovich will appear in court Dec. 21 for preliminary discussions of evidence.

Meanwhile, the former head of Australia’s Nazi war crimes investigatory unit has accused the government of “treacherous nonsense” in its decision not to complete a case against a former Latvian officer alleged to have headed a murder squad.

“The historical importance (of this case) was potentially enormous because, just like economic sanctions, criminal sanctions have got a role in international politics,” he said.

The case, which was almost completed, would have involved far more victims than that involving the two men whose cases have successfully reached the courts, he added.

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