Justice Minister clears Galicia Division
TORONTO - Minister of Justice and Attorney General Anne McLellan has confirmed that Ottawa has not uncovered any evidence that would allow for the commencement of court proceedings against any member of the Ukrainian Galicia Division.
This finding confirms the conclusions reached by the Justice Jules Deschenes whose Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals likewise concluded that mere membership in the Galicia Division was insufficient to justify prosecution and no revocation of citizenship case could be made against individuals based on their membership since the government of the day was fully aware of that membership.
Responding to a letter from the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Minister McLellan wrote:
"... over a number of years the War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity Section of the Department of Justice has, in conjunction with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, investigated allegations against individual members of the Division. In particular, all archival and investigative records of relevance in Eastern Europe have been reviewed since the collapse of the former Soviet Union.
"My officials advise me that while the Waffen SS was primarily made up of combat troops, there were a number of occasions on which individual units of the Waffen SS were directly involved in war crimes or crimes against humanity. Particular attention has been paid to identify any specific individuals who may have had involvement in police units or other German-controlled organizations prior to joining the Division. The evidence we have been able to uncover is insufficient to merit the commencement of court proceedings against any members of the Division."
UCCLA Chairman John J.B. Gregorovich commented: "We trust this will bring to a close media reports about the alleged presence of thousands of Nazi war criminals hiding in Canada. These unfounded allegations were made before the Deschenes Commission and were found to be 'grossly exaggerated.' Ever since, however, the persons who originally made those claims have been molly-coddled by the media, which has continued to report the same old allegations as if they were proven fact, instead of fantasy.
"The minister's letter confirms that no member of the Ukrainian Division Galicia can be prosecuted for a war crime or crime against humanity since no evidence of any such crime exists, as we have said all along.
"If Ottawa has compelling evidence that proves that a person is guilty of a war crime let them make their case in a Canadian criminal court. We support that. We do not support trial by media or the less rigorous denaturalization and deportation procedures that the government retreated to after discovering that there is no hard evidence confirming the existence of any Nazi war criminals in Canada."
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, January 3, 1999, No. 1, Vol. LXVII
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