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B.C. war crime case may be affected by stayed proceedings on federal Nazi cases.
ROBERTA STALEY STAFF REPORTER
The deportation case against a suspected war criminal living in Hope, B.C. will be slowed by a halt of proceedings against three suspected Nazis collaborators.
"If court would have gone through to completion, there would have been strong case law which would have moved the other Nazi war crimes trials to a speedy conclusion," said national Canadian Jewish Congress spokesman Bemie Farber. "Now we've ground to a tragic halt."
Last week, the Federal Court of Canada stayed proceedings in three of the country's high-profile war crime cases because judicial independence appeared to have been compromised. At issue was a meeting March 1 between Chief Justice Julius Isaac and Canada's assistant deputy attorney general Ted Thompson. Mr. Thompsen complained in writing and in person about the slow pace of war crime cases against three Ontario men, as well as a fourth related appeal. Ottawa's Justice Department is looking to launch an appeal. And Canadas' Simon Wiesenthal Centre has called for a review of the Justice Department's poor record of war crimes prosecutions.
Antanas Kenstavicius, a resident of Hope who turned 91 in Jime, is still expected to appear in Federal Court to determine if he misrepresented his past when he arrived in Canada in 1948 from a displaced persons camp in Germany. The Immigration Act has included misrepresentation as an offence warranting deportation since April 1978.
The stay of proceedings involved: Helmut Oberlander, 71, of Kitchener, Ont., Toronto's Erichs Tobiass, 84, and Johann Dueck, 76, of St. Catharines, Ont. The trio was facing deportation for allegedly lying about their Nazi pasts when they entered
Bernie Farber, national spokesman for Canadian Jewisti Congress.
Canada. Mr. Farber listed the men's alleged offences:
•Mr. Oberlander was accused of being a member of the Ein-satzhomando, the mobile killing unit used by the Nazis to slay thousands of Jews during the Holocaust.
•Mr. Tobiass was allegedly an SS sergeant in occupied Latvia who was accused of involvement in the deaths of thousands of civilians as well as the torching of Latvian villages.
•Mr. Dueck is alleged to have been a senior police officer in S e 1 i d 0 V k a , Ukraine who collaborated with the Nazis and ordered the execution of Jews and other civilians.
Mr. Kenstavicius' wife, Stella, said she fears the stay of proceedings in Ontario won't help her husband. She broke down in tears when asked how the case has affected her and Mr. Kenstavicius, who was not available for comment. "I — cannot — know how to tell you," blurted out the 81-year-old woman, who says she is nearly blind. "Always you are shocked. You know you are innocent."
Mrs. Kenstavicius said she believes her husband is innocent of the accusations. "I know his character," said Mrs. Kenstavicius, adding her husband is also nearly blind and has had 14 heart attacks.
Mr. Kenstavicius' lawyer, Rosanne Newman of Hope, couldn't be reached for comment before deadline. Mr. Kenstavicius is accused of personally executing three Jews as well as intellectuals. While a police commander in Lithuania, he also allegedly oversaw the murder of 8,000 Jews. The RCMP reportedly became aware of his background after being informed by Canadian Jewish Congress in 1949. At that time, it was not illegal to be a war criminal in Canada. □