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Australian Tv Film Spurs Calls for Probe of Alleged War Criminal

April 4, 2000
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Two leading Australian Jewish organizations are calling on their government to reopen its investigation of an alleged Nazi war criminal.

The calls for the investigation into Antanas Gudelis came following the broadcast of a documentary that included testimony from witnesses who said Gudelis ordered murders and was personally involved in brutality in Lithuania during World War II.

During the course of the documentary, which was broadcast last week on the nationally televised program “Dateline,” Lithuania’s chief prosecutor claimed that he needed the names of individuals whose deaths and suffering Gudelis was directly and personally responsible for in order to press charges against him.

A leading Australian historian, Konrad Kwiet, and the director of the Office of Special Investigations of the U.S. Justice Department, Eli Rosenbaum, responded by saying they are shocked that the Lithuanian official would make such a comment because the names of 800 people murdered at the hands of Gudelis’ unit are held in Lithuania.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the umbrella body of Australia’s Jewish community said, “It would be outrageous if Australia’s hospitality is being abused by Nazi war criminals remaining here as fugitives.”

The council’s president, Nina Bassat, added that “the presence of people who have committed crimes against humanity is a moral stain on our nation.”

Colin Rubenstein, the executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, said, “Many Australians want to see re-established a body along the lines of the former Special Investigations Unit to enable the recurring problem of war criminals to be dealt with effectively in Australia, and to erase Australia’s image as a safe haven for war criminals.

“The need for Australia to have the option of deprivation of citizenship and deportation in such cases is also overwhelming. Experience in the United States and Canada proves that it is not too late to achieve a measure of justice in this area,” Rubenstein said.

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