Nazi war suspect may be extradited

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The Independent Online

The Australian government said yesterday that it would cooperate if Latvia requested the extradition of the alleged Nazi war criminal, Konrad Kalejs, who has been living in Melbourne since fleeing Britain earlier this year.

The Australian government said yesterday that it would cooperate if Latvia requested the extradition of the alleged Nazi war criminal, Konrad Kalejs, who has been living in Melbourne since fleeing Britain earlier this year.

Latvian prosecutors filed war crimes and genocide charges on Thursday against Mr Kalejs, 86, who is suspected of complicity in the murder of tens of thousands of Jews in Latvia during World War Two.

Mr Kalejs, a former Latvian army officer who took Australian citizenship in 1957, has admitted that he was a member of the Nazi-backed Arajs death squad in Latvia, where 95 per cent of the pre-war Jewish population of 70,000 was killed during German occupation.

But he has denied taking part in war crimes, saying that he was at university when the killings took place in 1941.

The Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, said that once a formal request for extradition was received, it would be assessed on merit. ""We will facilitate the extradition application," he said.But the proper processes of the law will be followed. Like any other Australian citizen, he is entitled to a presumption of innocence."

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