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Uncovered legal opinion backs efforts to deport war criminals

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SYDNEY, Nov. 19 (JTA) – A legal opinion prepared for an Australian prosecutors’ office could provide an impetus for deporting suspected Nazi war criminals. The opinion, originally prepared for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions in 1990, contradicts claims by the Australian government that it cannot deport individuals convicted of crimes against humanity if they have been permanent residents or citizens of Australia for more than 10 years. The opinion, which came to light in a report published this week in the magazine Australia/Israel Review, argues that members of Nazi killing units who migrated to Australia between 1949 and 1958 could be legally deported. According to the report, a law in place between January 1949 and October 1958 was the Nationality and Citizenship Act, which included a section allowing the withdrawal of citizenship from individuals who concealed “some material circumstances” or “who were not at the date on which he was registered or naturalized of good character.” Robert Greenwood, an official with the now-defunct Special Investigations Unit, which was established by the government to investigate Nazi war criminals, said Australia allowed individuals suspected or convicted of war crimes to stay in the country because they would have been deported to countries in the Soviet bloc. The opinion could affect the case of Konrad Kalejs, who was a member of the Arajs Kommando mobile killing unit in Latvia during the war. Kalejs was ordered deported from the United States to Australia in 1994, where he had been naturalized in 1957. He subsequently moved to Canada for three years. In August, he was deported from Canada and returned to Australia. Australian officials have said Kalejs cannot be deported because he is an Australian citizen. Latvia has made no request for the extradition of Kalejs. Only one Nazi war criminal has been put on trial in Australia since war crimes legislation was adopted in 1988 – and he was not convicted.

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