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Ontario Man is Third Canadian to Be Indicted for War Crimes

January 31, 1990
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A retired Ontario autoworker has become the third Canadian indicted for war crimes under a 1987 law here.

Stephen Reistetter, 75, an alleged former official of the fascist Hlinka Guard in Slovakia, is accused, among other things, of supervising the loading of 3,000 Jews into boxcars bound for Nazi death camps.

The allegations against him surfaced four years ago on the “Fifth Estate” program of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Reistetter, a resident of St. Catharines, in the Ontario wine district, was arrested Jan. 18 and released on $100,000 bail. He is scheduled to appear in court again on Feb. 15.

His attorney, John Stephens, has raised eyebrows here by implying that his arrest was tied to “pressure from Jewish groups” in Canada.

B’nai Brith Canada called that suggestion “offensive,” saying that “neither we, nor any other organization, direct the Justice Department, which bases its activities on stringent legal standards.”

Reistetter was arrested less than a month after war crimes charges were brought against 72-year-old Michael Pawlowski of Renfrew, Ontario.

Pawlowski was accused on four counts of war crimes and four counts of crimes against humanity. He is alleged to have murdered 410 Jews and 80 non-Jewish Poles in the Byelorussian town of Snov, in 1942. His case will resume on March 23.

Meanwhile, the trial of Imre Finta continued in Toronto this week.

The Hungarian-born former restaurateur from Hamilton, Ontario, was the first Canadian brought to trial under a 1987 amendment to the criminal code. The amendment allows Canadian courts to try alleged war criminals living in Canada for offenses committed on foreign soil.

Finta, a member of the pro-Nazi Hungarian gendarmerie during World War II, is accused of deporting and murdering Jews.

All three war-crimes trials are proceeding by preferred indictment. It is a legal tactic whereby the prosecution may speed up the process by eliminating a preliminary hearing.

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