Posted Wednesday, January 5, 2000

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THIS decision by the same Philip Ruddock as declared Mr Irving would not receive a visa on grounds of "character" is an unprecedented slap in the face for the "international Jewish community."

Wednesday, January 5, 2000


Show me the proof: Ruddock


THE Howard Government yesterday challenged international Jewish organisations to produce fresh evidence against all alleged war criminal Konrad Kalejs, or let him be.

Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock yesterday said he refused to be bullied into banning the suspected Nazi death squad member from returning to Australia, warning outraged Jewish groups that Mr Kalejs would be free to live out his life in peace here if no new evidence of his alleged crimes was provided.

"We do not submit to criminal charges on the basis of assertions, we do it on the basis of evidence and that is the assumption of every Australian," he said.

Mr Kalejs, an Australian citizen, is expected back in Australia later this week after being served a deportation notice by British authorities.

It is believed his British visa expires tomorrow.

The 86-year-old has been holed up in England since being tracked there last week by the famed Nazi-hunting group the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

Mr Kalejs is believed to be staying at a nursing home in Leicestershire. He denies the allegations against him and previously has described his accusers as "liars and storytellers".

He has so far refused to comment on British Home Secretary Jack Straw's decision to begin moves to deport him.

The night manager at Catthorpe Manor -- where Mr Kalejs is staying -- said: "We want nothing more to do with Mr Kalejs.

"The sooner he leaves England, the better it will be for all the residents here."

Accused of holding a senior position in the notorious Arajs Kommando killing unit in Latvia, which is believed responsible for the murder of 30,000 Jews, Gypsies and communists, Mr Kalejs already has been deported from the US and Canada.

Mr Ruddock yesterday repeatedly denied accusations by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre that Australia had become a safe haven for Nazi war criminals and defended Mr Kalejs's right to return.

"He is an Australian citizen and any Australian citizen is entitled as a matter of law to return to Australia," he said.

Simon Wiesenthal Centre director Efraim Zuroff said the centre was preparing evidence against a second alleged war criminal with Australian citizenship.

The Age


Wednesday, January 5, 2000

Nazi war suspect linked to ASIO
(or not, as the case may be)


The alleged war criminal Konrad Kalejs was employed by Australia to help vet refugees after World War II and may have been an ASIO agent, according to the former head of Australia's Special Investigation Unit into war criminals.

Mr Bob Greenwood, QC, said yesterday a number of alleged Nazi war criminals were used by ASIO to spy on ethnic communities.

Mr Kalejs, who came to Australia as a displaced person in 1950, worked for three years at the Bonegilla migrant camp near Wodonga in Victoria. One of his duties was issuing identity cards to migrants.

Mr Greenwood said the Special Investigation Unit, which he headed until it was abandoned in 1992, came across a number of ASIO "activity files" on people it investigated.

He said there was no direct evidence to link ASIO with Mr Kalejs, but the nature of the work he carried out in Bonegilla would make him a prime ASIO target. "Quite a few of these people (alleged war criminals) worked for ASIO, we know that," he said.

The claims came as the Government faced renewed pressure from Jewish groups and within its own ranks to re-open an investigation into Mr Kalejs ahead of his return to Australia.

Mr Kalejs, who has been living for almost six months in a retirement home in Britain, was ordered out of the country on Monday.

The decision to deport Mr Kalejs, rather than put him on trial for his alleged involvement in the murder of 30,000 Latvian civilians, mostly Jews, during World War II, prompted anger among Nazi hunters in Britain.

With Mr Kalejs expected back in Australia by the weekend, Jewish groups yesterday said Government authorities should actively pursue allegations against him.

South Australian Liberal MP, Mr Christopher Pyne, who heads the Australia-Israel parliamentary group, said the Government should examine why a person deemed undesirable in three countries should be allowed to return to Australia.

The vice-president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Mr Jeremy Jones, called on the Government to appoint a special investigator.

He said the Federal Police were not equipped to do the task and an investigator was needed to comb through Soviet archive files, made available since the end of the Cold War, and to liaise with Latvian authorities.

Another federal Labor MP, Mr Michael Danby, accused the Justice Minister, Senator Amanda Vanstone, of "masterly inaction" and said fresh material available from the newly-democratic Baltic countries should be examined.

But the Immigration Minister, Mr Philip Ruddock, said the Government would not be bullied into taking action. "We are not going to be tarred with any brush of inadequacy on our part by upholding the rule of law," Mr Ruddock said.

Copyright © The Age Company Ltd 2000.

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