MOSCOW (Sep. 21)
Latvia has found no evidence to support allegations against a suspected Nazi war criminal now living in Australia.
Konrad Kalejs, 84, is alleged to have been a member of the mobile killing squad known as the Arajs Kommando, or Latvian Auxiliary Security Police, that collaborated with the Nazi SS during World War II.
Kalejs is accused of having participated in the killing of 20,000 Jews in Latvia during World War II.
He claims that he was a university student at the time.
About 75,000 Jews, or more than 90 percent of the country’s prewar Jewish community, were murdered during the war by the Nazis — with help from local residents.
The Latvian Prosecutor General’s Office said last week that the investigation into Kalejs’ past included an examination of records and testimony originally gathered during the 1950s and 1960s by Soviet KGB officials who had investigated Kalejs and other alleged Nazi collaborators.
The office said that its investigation indicated that “several Latvians had participated in the persecution of Jews during World War II,” but that it had no convincing evidence about Kalejs.
The prosecutor’s office quoted a former KGB officer as saying that Soviet officials would have prosecuted Kalejs decades ago if they had found sufficient evidence against him.
Several dozen Latvians were tried in this former Soviet republic after World War II for collaborating with the Nazis.
But some of them were pardoned as “victims of the KGB” after Latvia gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
The Latvian Foreign Ministry said last week that it will forward the findings later this month to the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, which recently called for the deportation of Kalejs from Australia to Latvia to face charges.
Kalejs moved to Australia after the war and later relocated to the United States.
He is alleged to have used his position in the Australian Immigration Department, where he worked in the 1950s, to help fellow Arajs Kommando squad members settle there.
Kalejs was ordered deported from the United States to Australia in 1994. He subsequently fled to Canada, where he lived for three years.
He was deported by Canada to Australia in August.
Within days after he arrived in Australia, officials there said it was unlikely he would be prosecuted under Australian war crimes legislation.