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Neal Hall, CanWest News Service
Published: Friday, August 03, 2007 

A Nazi war criminal living in Vancouver will spend the long weekend in jail
after the B.C. Court of Appeal upheld an extradition request from Italy, which
wants the man returned to serve a life sentence for torturing and murdering
prisoners.

Now a frail 83-year-old man who walks with a cane, Michael Seifert was a member
of the German S.S. (Schutzstaffel, the Nazi special police force) and a guard
at the Bolzano Transit Camp in northern Italy during the Second World War.

The Italian government alleges Seifert beat, tortured, starved and murdered
inmates at the Nazi-run prison camp between December 1944 and April 1945.

Seifert refused to travel to Italy for his trial, where he was convicted of
nine murders, in absentia, and was sentenced to life in prison.

One of his grounds of appeal was that Italy's conduct was an abuse of process
because a trial was held before extradition, which was unfair.

But the appeal court found Seifert couldn't complain about in absentia
proceedings he refused to attend.

The court also noted a defence lawyer was appointed for Seifert by the court at
his trial in Italy. The lawyer asked questions of the witnesses and made
submissions on behalf of Seifert, who was acquitted on six of the 15 charges
for which he was tried, the appeal court said.

Seifert's lawyer, Doug Christie, said today that he will seek leave to appeal
the latest ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Seifert now is in custody -- he had to surrender himself before today?s ruling
-- after being on bail for years.

"I intend to bring a bail application next week," Christie said in a telephone
interview.

Seifert has been fighting his extradition to Italy since 2003. He moved to
Canada more than 50 years ago, raised a family and has been living in east
Vancouver on Commercial Street.

The appeal court also dismissed Seifert's petition for a judicial review of the
justice minister's order in 2005 that Seifert be surrendered to Italy.

Seifert alleged that then- justice minister Irwin Cotler had a background as a
passionate advocate for Jewish organizations in matters related to the
Holocaust and bringing Nazi war criminals to justice, which gave rise to a
reasonable apprehension of bias.

"It is said that a well-informed, reasonable person would not think the
minister could bring an open mind to the exercise of the discretionary power to
refuse surrender on humanitarian and compassionate grounds or on grounds
relating to the Italian process," concluded the unanimous appeal court judgment
released today, which was written by Justice Ian Donald, with Justices Carol
Huddart and Kenneth Smith concurring.

At his extradition hearing, Seifert?s lawyer initially questioned whether his
client was mentally fit to participate in the process and challenged the
sufficiency of the evidence adduced by Italy in various ways.

Seifert testified for four days, denying every allegation of wrongdoing by
every witness in Italy?s record of the case.

On Aug. 27, 2003, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Selwyn Romilly committed Seifert
to be extradited to Italy on seven of the nine murder offences.

The function of the Bolzano prison in Italy was to gather anti-fascist and
anti-Nazi politicians, persons of Jewish religion, deserters and other persons
rounded up in Italy who were destined to be transferred to the concentration
and extermination camps in Austria (Mauthausen), Germany (Dachau, Flossenburg,
Ravensbruck) and Poland (Auschwitz).

The camp also gathered family members of deserters from the German military who
were captured in order to convince the deserters to return to the army.  The
prisoners were both men and women. There were also a few children, mainly
Jewish.

The latest appeal judgment is online at:
www.courts.gov.bc.ca/Jdb-txt/CA/07/04/2007BCCA0407.htm

nhall@png.canwest.com 
 CanWest News Service 2007


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