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February 14, 1992 - Image 20

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-02-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 1992

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Toronto (JTA) — A Cana-
dian Supreme Court ruling
barring federal prosecutors
from using videotaped
evidence in court has dealt a
legal blow to the war crimes
case pending against
Michael Pawlowski.
As a result of the ruling,
the Justice Department will
have no live eyewitness
testimony against Mr.
Pawlowski when pretrial
proceedings resume March
13.
Mr. Pawlowski, 74, was
charged in November 1989
with eight counts of war
crimes and crimes against
humanity in the deaths of
410 Jews and 80 Poles killed
in 1942 in the Minsk region
of White Russia, now
Belarus.
Federal prosecutors had
hoped to send a team to
Belarus, formerly the Soviet
republic of Byelorussia, to
gather evidence against Mr.
Pawlowski.
But the Supreme Court
last week barred an appeal
of a ruling issued last May
by Justice James Chadwick
of the Ontario Court General
Division, which found that
videotaped evidence from
witnesses in the former
Soviet Union was inade-
quate as the central basis of
the case.
That month a key witness
died in Canada who was to
have given critical
testimony involving the
massacre of 80 Poles and
eight Jews in the village of
Yeskovichi.
David Matas, a lawyer for
B'nai B'rith Canada, urged
the Justice Department "to
proceed with the case and
address the evidence-
gathering issue at trial."
Mr. Matas, who is the au-
thor of a book called Justice

Delayed: Nazi War
Criminals in Canada, said
war crimes trials are suffer-
ing from a low priority and a
lack of sympathy and atten-
tion from the judiciary.
Sol Littman, director of the
Simon Wiesenthal Center's
Canadian office, said that in
view of the decision on
videotaped evidence, Cana-
dian courts should follow the
example of a Scottish court
that traveled to Lithuania to
hear the evidence against a
war crimes suspect.
Mr. Littman acknowl-
edged the difficulties of
mounting a trial half a cen-
tury after the crimes were
committed but accused the
government of dragging its

feet in delaying investiga-
tions.
"If there is any sincerity
whatever in Canada's pros-
ecution of war criminals,
then they will not stop now
and, if necessary, they will
simply move the venue over
to the country where the
crimes were committed."
Mr. Pawlowski, a retired
carpenter, has been living
since 1951 in Renfrew, On-
tario, 65 miles west of Ot-
tawa. He is the second per-
son arrested under war
crimes legislation enacted
by Parliament in September
1987.
Unlike in the United
States, Canadian law allows
for the criminal prosecution
of certain offenses
perpetrated on foreign soil
before the accused entered
the country, in addition to
civil proceedings, like depor-
tation or extradition.
Under the first trial enabl-
ed by the war crimes
amendment to the Criminal
Code, Imre Finta was ac-
quitted in May 1990. The 79-
year-old Toronto man had
been charged with the kid-
napping, forcible confine-
ment and robbery of 8,617
Hungarian Jews in the city
of Szeged in 1944.
In March, charges were
dropped against Stephen
Reistetter of St. Catharines,
Ontario, who was accused of
sending some 3,000 Jews in
Bardejov, Slovakia, to Nazi
death camps. Crown lawyer
Gilles Renaud said there
was insufficient evidence to
proceed against Reistetter
after two witnesses died and
others proved unwilling or
incapable of testifying.
In Vancouver, Jacob Luit-
jens, 72, was stripped of his
Canadian citizenship Nov. 7
after a court ruling Oct. 23
that he had concealed his
past Nazi ties when he im-
migrated to Canada.
The denaturalization pav-
ed the way for the retired
University of British
Columbia botany instructor
to be deported or extradited
to the Netherlands, where
he was tried in absentia in
1948, convicted of col-
laborating with the enemy
in time of war and sentenced
to life imprisonment.
A 1986-1987 royal com-
mission headed by Justice
Jules Deschenes identified
20 prime Nazi war crimes
cases to be urgently pursued.
The Quebec Superior Court
judge also recommended an-
other 200 cases be further
investigated.

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