Edmonton Journal | Mar. 20, 2004 | Marco Levytsky

To deport? Or not?

An Edmonton man who has lived in Canada for 55 years is suspected of being a Nazi war criminal. If it's proven he lied to get into Canada, should he be stripped of his citizenship and sent out of the country? The Journal asked two people with opposing viewpoints -- a Winnipeg lawyer and an Edmonton publisher -- to answer that question:
Yes ... or ... No

Edmonton Journal, A15, Saturday, March 20, 2004


"One might well wonder what the government is doing when it uses KGB files as evidence."

Marco Levytsky
Special to The Journal

To fully understand the Josef Furman case -- and all the denaturalization and deportation cases that use the civil court's revocation of citizenship process instead of the criminal justice system -- one first has to realize that this has nothing to do with bringing "Nazi war criminals" to justice.

It does, however, have everything to do with an abuse of the civil liberties of naturalized Canadians, denying them the sort of legal safeguards that even serial killers get.

Furman is not being charged with any war crimes. Nowhere in the statement of claim issued against him is there any reference to any specific crime that he individually committed.

The case against him is based totally on guilt by association -- namely that he served as a member of the Trawniki guard, and therefore might have participated in such-and-such an act. Such an accusation would be thrown out of any criminal court.

Furman denies that he was with the Trawniki guard, but since this issue has been raised, it should be noted that it was from among barely surviving Soviet prisoners of war that the Germans conscripted men to Trawniki. Since the Nazis considered Russians and other Slavs to be "subhuman," conditions for Soviet PoWs were appalling. By early 1942, 60 per cent of them had died of starvation. The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (published in Tel Aviv in 1995) states that Russian PoWs were forced into service and had no choice as to assignments. They were treated with exceeding brutality by their German officers. Those who tried to desert were executed, and their families punished.

During the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, the Trawniki men were not deployed inside the ghetto, but were instead used for external security. A Trawniki man could have spent his time in Warsaw guarding a railroad bridge or railroad cars.

The claim that Furman was a member of the SS is invalid. Non-Germans were only allowed into Waffen SS (battle) units.

Moreover, between 1972 and 1976, the commander of the Trawniki guards, Karl Streibel, and five of his German staff members were tried for war crimes and the persecution of Jews. After years of litigation and 35,000 pages of transcripts, they were cleared on all counts. If the commander of the unit is innocent of war crimes, how then can a lowly PoW conscript stand accused?

Whatever evidence the Canadian government is likely to use against Furman as to his alleged service as an auxiliary guard will most likely come from an agency well known for its own crimes against humanity -- the former Soviet KGB.

Upon announcing the launch of the D&D policy in a January 1995 news release, the government stated that a major step forward in its investigations was an agreement that gave it access to KGB files. One might well wonder what the government of Canada is doing when it uses KGB files as evidence. So did the judges in three cases, when they threw out government evidence for that very reason.

But the government is under no obligation to prove Furman committed any criminal act -- only that "on a balance of probabilities", he lied upon coming to Canada -- not the guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard required in criminal court proceedings.

"Balance of probabilities" simply means 51 per cent on one side versus 49 on the other. The final decision on the revocation of a person's citizenship rests with a committee of cabinet, which makes the government both prosecutor and court of last appeal.

Since there is no judicial appeal process, no precedents can be established. Judges have ruled both for and against respondents in similar cases, so the whole system amounts to a judicial lottery where the victim's fate depends upon whichever judge he gets.

In the case of one Trawniki guard, Wasyl Odynsky, Justice Andrew MacKay found that his service was involuntary and that there was no evidence that he participated in the mistreatment of any prisoner anywhere at any time. Nevertheless, he ruled, despite the lack of documentary evidence (all the immigration files from that period have been destroyed by the Canadian government), that "on a balance of probabilities" Odynsky lied upon coming to Canada.

Yes, do bring war criminals -- all war criminals, not just Nazi ones -- to justice. But do so under due process of law and not some backdoor policy which amounts to nothing but a legal sham designed to score points in this so-called "hunt for Nazi war criminals".

Marco Levytsky is the editor and publisher of the Edmonton-based, nationally distributed Ukrainian News, and a member of the National Justice Committee of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

� The Edmonton Journal 2004