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Toronto, Canada, Sunday, October 5, 2003
in Washington, U.S. lawyer once advised Canada's
hunter quits in disgrace
By PETER WORTHINGTON
IN 1997, our federal Justice
Department hired Neal Sher, former head of
the U.S. Justice Department's Nazi-hunting agency,
to help root out war criminals and deport those
accused of working for the Nazis in World War
that time, our courts had thrown out most war
crimes cases, so the government, led by
then-immigration minister Elinor Caplan,
(left), apparently zeroed in on deporting
people (mostly old Ukrainians, as it turned out)
who as teenagers had been forced to work for the
Nazis, and after the war came to Canada.
It is alleged that many, like Toronto's Wasyl
Odynsky, did not tell the RCMP they'd been
forced to serve in Nazi auxiliaries.
Mr. Justice Andrew MacKay, who went to
Ukraine to investigate the Odynsky case, found
nothing to suggest he had done anything resembling
a crime against humanity.
Because Justice MacKay felt it was "probable"
that Odynsky had not told of his background, Caplan
-- and now her successor, Denis Coderre --
want Odynsky deported without the basic human right
of an appeal.
Many MPs and others favour an appeal process but
this is denied in present legislation.
all this was going on, Sher was hired as a
consultant by then-justice minister Anne
McLellan to help the war crimes unit with
prosecutions and deportations. McLellan praised
Sher as a "talented and highly competent
Elinor Caplan echoed the praise.
Irving Abella, (right), chair of
the war crimes committee for the Canadian Jewish
Congress, was quoted as saying: "They could not
have made a better choice."
AT the time, I scolded that Sher was an appalling
and unnecessary choice. I (and others) felt he was
biased, unfair and had ill-served "justice" in the
U.S., where he headed the Office of Special
Investigations (OSI) from 1983 to 1994.
In 1998, an American court concluded the OSI --
both before and during Sher's watch -- had all but
fabricated the case against retired Cleveland auto
Demjanjuk, insisting he was "Ivan the
Terrible," a sadistic guard at the Treblinka death
While not holding Sher
personally responsible for wrongdoing, the Ohio
court, in restoring Demjanjuk's citizenship at
the time, ruled the OSI had withheld key
evidence, acted with "reckless disregard for
their duty to the court" and perpetrated
"further fraud upon the court that ... infects
the whole justice system." The judge's findings
supported an earlier appeals court decision that
had reached similar conclusions.Conviction
Prior to this ruling, Demjanjuk had been
extradited to Israel, where he had been sentenced
Through the tireless efforts of Demjanjuk's
son-in-law, Ed Nishnic, evidence was
gathered that persuaded the Israeli Supreme Court
to overturn that conviction in 1993.
Ironically, Demjanjuk, who returned to America
following the decision of Israel's Supreme Court,
was again stripped of his citizenship last year,
after a judge concluded there was compelling
evidence he was a Nazi death camp guard.
Demjanjuk, who has been locked in a 25-year
battle with the U.S. Justice Department, is
appealing that ruling.
By the time Canada hired Sher, he'd been
replaced as head of the OSI.
Sher went on to become executive director of the
American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC),
and later, chief of staff of the International
Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims
(ICHEIC), formed to ensure Holocaust victims
collected on insurance policies. The Baltimore
Sun (as well as The Los Angeles Times,
Forward magazine and others) have reported
that Sher resigned after being accused of
misappropriating over $136,000 in fraudulent travel
The ICHEIC raised some $40 million -- much of
which went for administration costs while only $18
million to survivors. (One report claimed that of
$33 million raised, $30 million went for
On Aug. 28 , Sher was disbarred in
did not defend himself and filed "a motion to
accept consent to disbarment." He said he agreed to
this because the cost of fighting disbarment "would
be absolutely prohibitive." Sher made full
restitution of the $136,000. The chairman of
ICHEIC, former U.S. secretary of state Lawrence
Eagleburger, (left), called the case a
"tragedy." Because Sher
voluntarily accepted disbarment, details remain
In the disbarment papers, Sher agrees his
consent "is freely and voluntarily rendered," that
he knows there is "currently pending an
investigation into ... allegations of misconduct,"
that the "allegations of misconduct ... are true,"
that if disciplinary proceedings were instigated,
he "could not successfully defend against
Some think Sher got off lightly, others think
disbarment is too severe. He cannot apply for
reinstatement for at least five years. This, then,
is the guy Canada once thought a perfect choice to
help get rid of aging Ukrainians who are guilty of
nothing except being Ukrainians forced, or coerced,
as youths into working for the Nazis. As a
consultant, Canada paid Sher $200 an hour.
When asked about Sher, the Justice Department
would only say he is no longer employed there.
In a Jan. 22, 1998, column I wondered, "Why do
we need an American to help investigate war
The shame of Neal Sher doesn't help Wasyl
Odynsky and others, but it should embarrass Canada
for hiring the wrong man.
stories on this website:
dossier on the origins of anti-Semitism
Forward: Restitution Leader Disbarred by Court
after Investigation of Job Misconduct | and
David Irving's commentary
A Times on the Demjanjuk case
OSI chief Neal Sher was caught with his hand in
the till and sacked from Holocaust
Sher accuses the CIA of anti-Semitism
1999: Justice Dept renewed court battle to strip
U.S. citizenship from John Demjanjuk
the score with John Demjanjuk: Globe and Mail
finds that a notorious war-crimes suspect is a
target again after 6 years of freedom, and
neighbours ask why
Sher is currently under criminal investigation
for perjury in the United States; this same OSI
is now saying Demjanjuk was not Ivan the
Terrible after all...
History and Mossad,the Israeli Secret Service by
Brentar reports on the OSI's attempts to conceal
the truth about John Demjanjuk and to railroad
an innocent man to the gallows
Government and its new Nazi-hunting Office of
Special Investigations had the wrong
Irving's diary documents an attempt to circulate
a (probably forged) document of OSI provenance
smearing his name in Feb 1993
Nazi-Hunter Neal Sher on the death of Mossad
chief Isser Harel