Toronto Star | 21Aug2006 | Canadian Press

2 men ruled to be Nazis could lose citizenship

Elderly immigrants were in SS: Judge
Cases must now go back to minister

ST. CATHARINES—A St. Catharines man accused of being a Nazi concentration camp guard could be stripped of his Canadian citizenship after losing his case in federal court.

Jura Skomatchuk, 85, is accused of lying about his wartime activities to Canadian immigration officials in order to get into the country.

In a decision released Friday, Justice Judith Snider said she was satisfied that Skomatchuk was an SS guard of the Third Reich who worked as a concentration camp guard.

"Mr. Skomatchuk failed to disclose that information to immigration officials at the time he came to Canada," Snider wrote in her decision. "In other words, Mr. Skomatchuk obtained his Canadian citizenship by false representation or fraud or by knowingly concealing material information."

The Ukrainian-born Skomatchuk came to Canada in May 1952 and became a citizen in October 1957.

The Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration accused him of collaborating with Nazi authorities, being a member of the SS Trawniki training camp in occupied Poland and being a guard in an SS unit at concentration camps in the German Reich.

Neither Skomatchuk nor his lawyer, Eric Hafemann, could be reached for a statement in the case.

During the trial, Skomatchuk's lawyer argued there was no evidence he participated in any wartime atrocities.

Snider concluded that Skomatchuk told an RCMP screening officer, who testified during the trial, that he worked on trenches and on a farm between 1943 and 1945. Snider said he did not tell the officer about his membership in the SS as a guard at concentration camps.

"If Mr. Skomatchuk had disclosed his experience as an SS guardsman at one or more concentration camps, that disclosure may well have led to his exclusion from Canada," she wrote.

Skomatchuk's case was heard in St. Catharines and Ottawa in June, along with the case of Josef Furman, 87, of Edmonton. Furman also lost his case. Skomatchuk and Furman were not present for any of the trial dates because of poor health.

Snider concluded Friday that Furman is the same man as SS guardsman Josef Furmantschuk, a Soviet prisoner of war who worked at a concentration camp in Flossenburg, Germany, for at least six months in 1943 to 1944.

Snider also decided he was integrated into the SS Death's Head guard units and deployed to help clear the Jewish ghettos in Warsaw and Bialystok.

Two historians testified, but there were no witnesses to identify Furmantschuk as Furman.

Hafemann denounced Snider's findings, saying she based her verdict on photocopies of Russian documents and other unreliable evidence.

Both men's cases will now be referred back to Immigration Minister Monte Solberg.

The process could involve revocation of citizenship. The minister can make a recommendation about an individual that would be decided in cabinet. The individual would then be given the chance to make submissions through correspondence about why he should be allowed to keep his status.

Since 1995, the government has started 21 revocation and deportation proceedings under the World War II part of Canada's war crimes program.