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Supreme Court Votes Against Granting Stay of Deportation for War Criminal

April 21, 1987
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday voted 6-3 against granting a stay of deportation for Karl Linnas, an alleged Nazi war criminal, removing the last obstacle blocking his ordered deportation to the Soviet Union. Justices William Brennan, Harry Blackmun and Sandra Day O’Connor voted in favor of granting the stay.

Last week, Linnas, 67, came within hours of receiving political asylum in Panama but Panama then retracted its invitation to Linnas in the face of vociferous Jewish opposition.

The vote canceled out the temporary stay of deportation granted two weeks ago to Linnas by Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

The high court’s vote met with benign reactions from the Justice Department which said only that the ruling would make Linnas eligible to be deported to the Soviet Union, the only country that would accept him.

Panama was the 17th country to refuse Linnas asylum. Jewish groups have accused Attorney General Edwin Meese of impeding justice for Linnas by seeking asylum for him in other countries and stalling on the final approval which only he can grant for Linnas’ deportation to the Soviet Union.

Linnas has been condemned to death in absentia in the Soviet Union for wartime atrocities he committed as commandant of a death camp in Tartu, Estonia, where 12,000 people died during the Holocaust. Linnas would be the second alleged Nazi deported to the Soviet Union along with Feodor Fedorenko, the accused Treblinka guard deported in 1984. Fedorenko also was sentenced to death.

The Justice Department, which brought the suit against Linnas, charged that he lied about his wartime activities when he entered the United States from Germany in 1951 and again when he was granted citizenship in 1960.

Linnas directed firing squads at the edge of mass grave pits and personally shot prisoners, the Justice Department charged.

Lawrence Shilling, a New York lawyer who represents Linnas, said after the ruling, “We think we can find a country that will accept him, but we need more time. We will be talking to the appropriate officials about getting more time.”

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