Supreme Court clears the rehabilitated

  • 2000-02-03
  • By Blake Lambert
RIGA – As the Latvian government came under attack for its inability to deal with World War II criminals at a conference in Stockholm, a recent Supreme Court decision will not quell that criticism.

On Jan. 30, Chief Supreme Court Judge Andris Gulans announced that an investigation of 17 rehabilitated people, innocent of crimes during the Soviet occupation but accused of war crimes against Jews, turned up no evidence.

"Mr. Gulans said the 17 people who are rehabilitated are lawful," said Leonards Pavils, press secretary for the Ministry of Justice.

The Supreme Court's investigation was prompted by information from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an organization dedicated to tracking those who committed crimes against humanity during World War II.

Yet the results of the investigation were released less than a week after the Center called on the Latvian government to cancel the rehabilitations given to at least "41 Nazi murderers".

The Center has slammed the Latvian government for years for its failure to prosecute a single Nazi war criminal since 1991. Its verbal attacks have sharpened in the last six weeks after it discovered Konrads Kalejs, who allegedly killed tens of thousands of Jews as a commanding officer with the Arajs Kommando, in England in December.

Before the Holocaust Forum in Stockholm, the Center also said its researchers had recently uncovered the rehabilitations granted to numerous "convicted Nazi murderers, including members of the infamous Arajs Kommando murder squad."

However, the Supreme Court has failed to find any damning evidence regarding the 41 rehabilitated people cited by the Center.

Pavils said they are considered to be lawful and cleared of any possible wrongdoing.

Nevertheless, he said the Supreme Court is willing to conduct further investigations if it receives names and information.

"If the Simon Wiesenthal Center sends a new list [of rehabilitated people accused of war crimes in World War II] to the Supreme Court, it will be investigated."