Summary

Footage Information

ABCNEWS VideoSource
AUSTRALIA: GOVERNMENT DEFENDS KALEJS DECISION
01/10/2000
APTN
VSAP171219
TAPE_NUMBER: EF00/0038 IN_TIME: 07:18:29 - 10:16:59 // 13:14:39 LENGTH: 02:05 SOURCES: AuBC RESTRICTIONS: No access Australia/Internet FEED: VARIOUS (THE ABOVE TIME-CODE IS TIME-OF-DAY) SCRIPT: English/Nat The Australian government on Monday defended its decision not to reopen an official investigation into Nazi war crimes suspect Konrad Kalejs. The call to have the investigation reopened was prompted when newspaper photographs emerged allegedly showing Kalejs wearing the uniform of a Nazi SS auxiliary in 1942. Under increasing pressure to put Kalejs on trial or change laws so he can be deported to Latvia, the Australian government warned that if it acted without strong new evidence it could jeopardise any future prosecution. Konrad Kalejs, 68, a Latvian-born Australian citizen, went into hiding after returning to Australia last Friday rather than face deportation proceedings in Britain, where he had been living. The Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center says Kalejs served in the notorious Arajs Kommando, a Nazi killing squad responsible for the death of 30,000 people, mostly Jews, in Latvia during World War II. He has denied the allegations. Evidence gathered by agencies including the U-S Office of Special Investigations and Australia's now disbanded war crimes unit has led to deportation proceedings in the United States, Canada and Britain. But the evidence against Kalejs has not been enough to prompt criminal charges, which require a higher standard of proof for deportation. Sydney's Daily Telegraph newspaper on Monday published a photograph from London's Mail on Sunday, which it said was taken in 1942 and shows Kalejs wearing the uniform of a Nazi SS auxiliary. Australian newspapers also printed excerpts from a Nazi propaganda newsletter dated June 5, 1942 in which Kalejs describes taking part in attacks on Soviet-held villages. John Anderson, who is Australia's acting Prime Minister while John Howard is out of the country, was unsure whether the photograph constitutes new evidence. SOUNDBITE: (English) "The point I'd make is that I don't know whether that is new evidence or not, I genuinely don't at this point time. It would surprise me if that had not been produced in the various enquiries that have gone on in the past. If it's not it will be properly considered by the responsible authorities." SUPERCAPTION: John Anderson, Acting Prime Minister of Australia Australia's foreign minister warned that if charges were laid and Kalejs acquitted, he could never be tried in Australia again and could neither be extradited on those charges. The Latvian government has said it will immediately seek Kalejs' extradition from Australia if new evidence of war crimes is uncovered. SOUNDBITE: (English) "The fact of the matter is that the file has never been closed, but there is no point pursuing something when clearly, repeatedly, the conclusion has been drawn here and internationally that there is inadequate evidence to proceed in terms of seeking a prosecution. There's no point reopening it, until you know that you are doing so on the basis of substance - new evidence as opposed to new allegations and new claims. They are different things. If the evidence is there, I have no doubt that the matter will be reactivated and moved on as expeditiously as possible. We've indicated that we will co-operate fully with the Latvians as they have another look, but they themselves in the more recent comments that I have heard have indicated that they don't necessarily have the evidence to proceed on, or new evidence to proceed on either. So, it's not a question of being sloppy on this. So I just make myself quite clear on the observation again, that those who want action, need to recognise that there has to be a difference between innuendo claims and allegations and real new evidence." SUPERCAPTION: John Anderson, Acting Prime Minister of Australia The two governments have begun talks on an extradition treaty. In his only interview since returning to Australia, Kalejs told the Special Broadcasting Service that he was an officer in the Arajs Kommando. But he denied he had ever been present when civilians were shot. Kalejs said he was a student in Latvia before being told by German generals in 1942 that he would be placed in command of a unit of Latvian soldiers. Kalejs said he discovered later that the soldiers were members of the Arajs Kommando. He said he met only briefly the Kommando's leader Viktor Arajs, who was charged in 1948 with mass killings. SHOTLIST: XFA Sydney and Rockhampton, Australia - 10 January 2000 Sydney 1. Newspaper photograph allegedly depicting Kalejs in Nazi uniform Rockhampton 2. Midshot meeting attended by John Anderson 3. SOUNDBITE: (English) John Anderson, Acting Australian Prime Minister 4. Cutaway 5. SOUNDBITE: (English) John Anderson, Acting Australian Prime Minister Sydney 6. Newspaper photograph in Australian press of Kalejs in Nazi uniform?
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