NEW YORK (Jan. 30)
Mikelis Kirsteins, a Utica, N.Y., man accused of assisting the Nazis in murdering 30,000 Jews in World War II Latvia, died in a hospital Wednesday, before the U.S. Justice Department could order his deportation.
A deportation hearing had been postponed since 1991, when Kirsteins suffered a stroke.
Kirsteins, 77, was a member of the Arajs Kommando, a notorious Latvian killing squad sympathetic to the Nazis, which murdered Jews and Communists.
In testimony told to the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations in 1987, Kirsteins admitted that he aided the Nazis by patrolling an area in which Jews were being shot, but said that he never pulled a trigger himself.
Kirsteins had been living in the U.S. since 1956, but agreed to relinquish his citizenship in 1991 in a settlement with OSI.
In return, OSI said it would not begin efforts to deport him unless his health significantly improved.