Calling his presence here a “travesty of justice,” 72 members of the Israeli Knesset have called on Costa Rica to expel accused war criminal Bodhan Koziy.
Joining in a campaign launched earlier this year by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, members of every party in the Knesset except the Arab Democratic Party singed a letter a Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres asking that Koziy be declared a persona non grata and deported.
The letter was presented this week to Costa Rica’s ambassador to Israel, Manuel Lopez.
Koziy, 73, a Ukrainian police official during World War II, has been accused of war crimes stemming from his collaboration with the Nazi occupations of Ukraine.
In 1982, Koziy, the owner of a Florida motel, was stripped of his U.S. citizenship. The U.S. Justice Department obtained a court order to deport him in 1984, but he fled to Costa Rica.
Officials in the former Soviet Union accused Koziy of killing Jewish children and their parents. But he was never extradited there by Costa Rica because Soviet officials, saying that they had no influence over Ukrainian courts, could not promise Costa Rica that Koziy would not face the death penalty.
The Knesset letter is the first from Israeli legislators regarding Koziy.
But it is not intended to disrupt the normally cordial relations between Costa Rica and Israel, said Efraim Zuroff, director of the Wiesenthal Center’s Jerusalem office. “No one is saying Costa Rica is a bad place,” he said. “It’s just that we have this one problem.”
Figueres and Foreign Minister Fernando Naranjo were in Taiwan this week on an official state visit and could not be reached for comment. Both have said Costa Rica would not unilaterally expel Koziy, but would study an extradition request.
No country has recently expressed an interest in seeking his extradition.
In August, Rep. Michael McNulty (D-N.Y.) personally handed a letter signed by 60 other congressmen to Figueres that said, “Judges in the United States and prosecutors in Germany affirmed that Koziy was a Nazi policeman in Ukraine, where he shot and killed – amongst others – a 4-year-old.”
In June 1994, the World Jewish Congress began a campaign to oust Koziy from Costa Rica. But the campaign subsided after reports from Kiev indicated that the sole surviving witness against Koziy had recanted her story.