TORONTO, July 13 (JTA) — A Canadian judge has ruled that an 81-year-old British Columbia resident can stay in Canada despite allegations that he worked as a guard at a Nazi-run camp in Latvia from 1941 to 1943. Lawyers for Eduards Podins contended that he was a grocer and had nothing to do with guarding prisoners at the camp near Valmiera, Latvia. Podins was on the Nazi payroll as an auxiliary police officer, but the judge found that he had actually worked as a shopkeeper. The judge also ruled that since Podins was not asked about his wartime experience when he entered Canada from Britain in 1959, he cannot be accused of lying about his wartime record. The judge further ruled that although inmates were subject to forced labor, beatings and at least one execution, the camp should be considered a prison camp and did not show the “systematic brutality” of a concentration camp. The ruling drew swift condemnation from B’nai Brith Canada. “We are concerned that the judge seems to have imposed a higher standard of evidence for a Nazi war criminal than is currently required for ordinary immigrants and refugees,” said the group’s senior legal counsel, David Matas. “Today these individuals can be deported for failing to disclose that they have a spouse or child.” In a stepped-up bid to clean up Canada’s image as a postwar haven for Nazi war criminals, the federal government has begun denaturalization and deportation proceedings against a list of about 15 Nazi war crimes suspects. Including the latest ruling, the federal war-crimes unit has lost three of the last six cases brought to trial. Another six cases are in progress.
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