Former Supreme Court Justice Jules Deschenes announced yesterday that he is sending two of his deputies to the Soviet Union, and possibly other Eastern Europen countries to seek evidence related to the cases of eight Canadians of Ukrainian origin suspected of war crimes while in the service of the Nazis during World War II, including crimes against Jews.
Deschenes was appointed by the government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney earlier this year to serve as a one-man commission to investigate suspected Nazi war criminals who found haven in Canada after the war. He has been sifting evidence and conducting hearings on the matter for several months.
He has delegated two counsellors to his commission, Michael Meighen and Yves Fortiers, to collect evidence which he will weigh before submitting his report to the government at the end of December. They will have access to wartime German as well as Soviet documents related to the cases under investigation and will visit other Communist bloc countries if necessary. They may also speak to eyewitnesses.
UKRAINIAN COMMUNITY PROTESTS
Deschenes’ decision to extend his investigation to the Soviet Union aroused fierce protests from the organized Ukrainian community in Canada which contends that any documents from Soviet sources are untrustworthy. On the other hand, Jewish groups active in tracing Nazi war criminals, such as the Los Angelesbased Simon Wiesenthal Center, have affirmed that there are war criminals of Ukrainian origin residing in Canada.
Irwin Cotler, professor of law at McGill University who represents the Canadian Jewish Congress before the Deschenes commission, praised the decision to seek evidence on the spot, where the war crimes were committed. “It is an excellent judgement well founded in law, policy and jurisprudence,” Cotler told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Deschenes will decide whether, under the rigorous standards of Canadian law, the evidence his deputies may unearth in the Soviet Union is sufficient to prove the suspects guilty of war crimes beyond reasonable doubt.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.