Edmonton Journal | Mar. 26, 2004 | David Howell

'Where are their witnesses?'

Lawyer for man with alleged Nazi past says deportation process is 'disgusting'

David Howell
Edmonton Journal Staff Writer
Friday, March 26, 2004

EDMONTON - Legal proceedings facing Josef Furman violate the Charter of Rights and waste taxpayers' money, says the Ontario lawyer who expects to defend the 83-year-old Edmonton man accused of being a Nazi concentration camp guard.

"Essentially, they are a criminal proceeding run through the back door under the guise of citizenship revocation," Eric Hafemann said in an interview Thursday. "In my view they are disgusting. They abuse people's civil rights -- but that's what the government is up to, so we will defend it."

Hafemann, who practises criminal law in Kitchener-Waterloo, has since 1996 defended Helmut Oberlander, whose Canadian citizenship was revoked after he was found to have lied about his past with a Nazi unit.

Oberlander remains in Canada and Hafemann continues to argue his case before the courts.

Hafemann said he was contacted by Furman's family this week. He expects to be retained but they have not yet agreed to specific terms of his representation. "I need another case like this like a hole in the head," Hafemann said. "They are a lot of work."

The federal government took court action on March 17,[2004] to strip Furman of his citizenship for allegedly hiding his Nazi past when he immigrated to Canada in 1949 and again when he gained citizenship in 1957.

The Justice Department accuses Furman, who was born Josef Leontievich Furmanchuk in Ukraine, of being a Nazi concentration camp guard during the Second World War and a member of a squad that participated in hundreds of atrocities, including mass shootings and clearing out Jewish ghettos.

Since 1995, the federal government has followed a strategy aimed at deporting those who collaborated with the Nazis during the Second World War.

After suspects are identified, the government alleges they misrepresented themselves and their wartime backgrounds when they applied to immigrate to Canada.

Furman is the 22nd man accused by the Canadian government of complicity in Nazi crimes and other atrocities. Only one man, Jacob Luitjens, has been deported from Canada as a Nazi collaborator.

Some cases are still in court, some men have been convicted but not yet deported, and some died before proceedings against them were completed.

Hafemann has read the 17-page statement of claim against Furman and is not surprised by its allegations, he said. He has seen similar allegations before.

"The statement of claim really isn't a statement of claim," he said.

"It is a historical document that goes on page after page talking about atrocities that happened during the Second World War, which nobody takes issue with. Then you get down to the poor person accused and there's virtually nothing there -- some allegation that this person was here, there, whatever.

"Where are their witnesses? They won't have any, and they won't have any documents, I can tell you that. Each case has been the same. And their allegation is that these Ukrainian kids were assisting the Nazi regime. Well, so was every Jew in a concentration camp forced to provide labour. This is exactly what this is about."

Hafemann is challenging the procedure used against Oberlander in the Superior Court of Ontario on grounds that his client's Charter rights were violated.

"You've got people who have been here, hard-working, for 50, 60 years. They have been decent citizens, and then somebody accuses them of being war criminals. That's what they do in their documentation. They use weasel words like 'alleged' and 'suspected' and so on, but that's what they do. To the world, they hold these people out as war criminals.

"If you are going to accuse someone of being a criminal, give them a criminal trial. We have criminal legislation here in Canada to permit that. But they don't do that. The argument is 'Oh, no, you haven't done anything wrong, but it's now an immigration matter: you must have lied about belonging to some group.'

"And then they produce no witnesses, no documents. But this is acceptable in the federal court? I find it disgusting. That's the only word that I can use."

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� The Edmonton Journal 2004

[W.Z. In the original Hafemann is misspelled as Hasemann.]