SYDNEY, Australia, Dec. 11 (JTA) — A suspected Latvian war criminal has now been ejected twice from the United States. Three years after he was originally deported, Konrad Kalejs, 84, was stopped this week at Los Angeles International Airport, where he was planning to transfer to a flight to Mexico, according to Australian news reports. American officials suspected that after arriving in Mexico, Kalejs was planning to try to re-enter the United States at another border crossing. But Kalejs, who was on a U.S. immigration watch list, was detained at the airport and placed on a flight back to Australia, where he obtained citizenship after World War II. The Australian government has placed no restrictions on his travel. Kalejs 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. He is accused of having participated in the killing of 20,000 Jews in Latvia. About 75,000 Jews, or more than 90 percent of Latvia’s prewar Jewish community, were murdered by the Nazis — with help from local residents. Kalejs, who moved to Australia after the war and later relocated to the United States, claims that he was a university student during the war. He 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. Australian officials have said it is unlikely he would be prosecuted there. Latvian officials recently launched an investigation into Kalejs past, but Jewish officials have accused them of having little desire to bring him to trial. In a related development, a previously secret memo from the Australian federal police indicated that an investigation of another suspected Latvian war criminal, Karlis Ozols, was dropped for financial reasons, despite the view of investigators that he was probably the most serious war criminal living in Australia. In March, Australian Attorney General Daryl Williams told Parliament that the investigation into Ozols was dropped due to lack of evidence. Jewish officials have repeatedly criticized Australia’s unwillingness to take steps against alleged war criminals who found haven there. The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center said last month that it believes 64 suspected Latvian war criminals are living in Australia and called on the Australian government to take action against them. Of the more than 800 people investigated by the Australian government since 1989 for participation in Nazi war crimes, only three have faced charges. None of the prosecutions have been successful.
SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING