Canada’s Justice Department has moved to expel four men accused of Nazi war crimes.
Few details were released about the suspects.
All live in the Toronto area and are alleged to have entered the country by concealing their wartime activities. Three are Canadian citizens and have 30 days to decide whether they want a denaturalization hearing or want to leave the country voluntarily.
The fourth man, a permanent resident, faces a deportation hearing before an immigration adjudicator.
Their names have not been released.
The Justice Department’s war crimes unit is believed to be currently investigating 12 alleged Nazi war criminals. These four suspects were charged first because their cases may determine points of law that would be helpful in the other eight cases, a Canadian official said.
The decision to lay civil rather than criminal charges suggests that the Justice Ministry now views the 1987 war crimes amendment to the Criminal Code as unworkable. None of the four cases previously pursued under that law has resulted in a conviction.
The Supreme Court of Canada is believed to have crippled chances for a successful prosecution of war criminals when it acted in March to uphold the acquittal of Imre Finta, a Hungarian police officer who sent 8,617 Jews to Auschwitz.
Under Canadian deportation law, the suspects could be returned to their country of birth, a country where they hold citizenship or the country from which they entered Canada. The suspects could then face criminal proceedings in those countries.
Although not displeased with the government’s decision to pursue the deportation route, Jewish groups were angered that other prosecutions against high priority war crimes cases were not launched due to what an Immigration Canada official called limited “economic and human resources.”
The war crimes unit, which will be cut to 11 staff members on March 31 from its current 24, has a three-year budget of $2.8 million.
Canadian Jewish Congress President Irving Abella said he was struck “by disbelief” over the decision to wait to see whether convictions could be obtained before another four cases were launched next year.