Straw plans to strip ex-Nazis of citizenship

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Suspected Nazi war criminals would be stripped of British citizenship under plans being drawn up by the Government to speed the extradition of those accused of committing atrocities during the Second World War.

Suspected Nazi war criminals would be stripped of British citizenship under plans being drawn up by the Government to speed the extradition of those accused of committing atrocities during the Second World War.

Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, is reviewing his powers amid claims that 1,500 members of a notorious Ukrainian SS division are living in the UK. Mr Straw has also been asked to act after police in Scotland failed to gather enough evidence to extradite Anton Gecas, 83, a native Lithuanian living in Edinburgh who is accused of having been a member of a Nazi death squad.

Many of the suspected war criminals entered Britain shortly after the war and become British citizens, rendering their extradition for trial abroad very difficult. However, in response to pressure from Jewish and other groups, Mr Straw is likely to follow the example of Canada and the United States, where citizens can be stripped of their new nationality and deported to answer charges overseas.

Barbara Roche, the Immigration minister, revealed a change was being considered after a series of allegations about former Nazis living in Britain. "The Home Secretary is considering the scope of his powers under immigration and nationality legislation in relation to individuals suspected of war crimes or crimes against humanity," she confirmed.

"The Government believes strongly that all war criminals should be brought to justice whenever possible, both those responsible for atrocities during the Second World War and subsequently."

A Home Office spokeswoman said Mr Straw had told officials to check whether he could extend his existing powers under the 1981 British Nationality Act. If he could not, new legislation would be considered, the spokeswoman said.

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