SYDNEY, March 13 (JTA) The Australian Jewish community is welcoming reports that Latvia is investigating an Australian citizen who allegedly participated in the killing of thousands of Jews during World War II.
Australia’s own investigation into Karlis Ozols, accused of being a senior officer in the wartime Latvian security police, was abandoned in 1992, when Australia closed its Special Investigations Unit.
Legal advice to the government at the time was that “the evidence establishes a strong prima facie case against Karlis Ozols,” adding that Ozols was the highest ranking alleged war criminal living in Australia.
Despite public assurances that the case was not pursued due to lack of substantial evidence, an Australian Jewish magazine published a leaked document that made it clear the government was unwilling to spend the additional funds required to complete the investigation.
Ozols was the commanding officer of Australian resident Konrads Kalejs, who is currently the subject of an investigation by Latvia after he was asked to leave England due to his involvement in war crimes.
Colin Rubenstein, executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, told JTA that the investigation “was welcome, as it reminds us that the issue of Nazi war criminals extends well beyond the Kalejs case.”
“Ozols is one of a number of individuals resident in Australia who were involved in Nazi crimes and other persecutions who have managed to abuse Australian tolerance and escape justice, and this situation must be rectified as soon as possible,” Rubenstein said.
Ozols, a former Australian chess champion, is reportedly not well enough to stand trial.