Court’s Landmark Decision Bolsters War Criminal Cases

A Canadian court has ruled that a suspected war criminal who gained citizenship under false pretenses may be stripped of his citizenship and deported.

The court ruled that Wasily Bogutin, 87, lied about his past when he entered Canada in 1951, telling immigration officials nothing about his role during World War II with the Selidovka District Police in Ukraine.

The police unit had collaborated with the Nazis in murdering some civilians and deporting many others to forced labor camps in Germany between 1941 and 1943.

Relying upon evidence that Canadian Justice Department officials gathered in Bogutin’s native Ukraine last summer, the court determined that he took part in the deportations, although not necessarily the murders.

The court further determined that because he lied to gain admittance to Canada, his citizenship could be revoked.

Canada has long been accused of dragging its feet in launching proceedings against suspected war criminals living in its midst, but the latest ruling received plaudits from the Canadian Jewish Congress.

“It’s the first time the government has achieved any success in court,” said Irving Abella, chair of the CJC’s War Crimes Committee. “The precedent has now been set so that those who lied about their role in World War II can be stripped of their citizenship, and once it’s taken away from them, they can be deported.”

The Justice Department won a conviction in 1990 against Latvian-born war-crimes suspect Konrad Kalejs, but Kalejs is not a Canadian citizen.

More recently, lawyers for two suspects, Ladis???aus Csizsik-Csatary of Toronto and Momertas Rolland Maciukas of Montreal, announced they would not contest denaturalization proceedings against them. Csizsik-Csatary has already left the country.

Abella urged that Bogutin be stripped of his citizenship and that deportation proceedings commence as soon as possible.

“We hope that this development will provide the additional momentum necessary to carry forward with the remaining cases still to be heard before the federal court,” he said.

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