FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
TUESDAY, JANUARY 21, 2003
TDD (202) 514-1888
U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SIGNS MEMORANDUM ON COOPERATION
WITH PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE OF REPUBLIC OF BELARUS
IN INVESTIGATION OF WORLD WAR II-ERA NAZI CASES
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Department of Justice announced the signing of a Memorandum on Cooperation yesterday between the Department and the Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Belarus in the investigation of World War II-era Nazi cases. The Memorandum will enable the Justice Department Criminal Division's Office of Special Investigations (OSI) to gain long-sought access to captured Nazi documents and other evidence in Belarus.
"This Memorandum," said Deputy Assistant Attorney General John G. Malcolm, who signed on behalf of the Department, "will secure access to one of the most important collections of captured Nazi documents and related records still existing." Mr. Malcolm expressed optimism that this newly-gained access will "yield valuable evidence that will be of immediate use in a number of ongoing OSI investigations."
Signing for the Belarusian Government was Deputy Prosecutor General Stepan Kosukha, who traveled to Washington from the Belarusian capital of Minsk for the occasion. "Investigating Nazi war crimes is important to my country," Mr. Kosukha, adding that Belarus had lost fully a third of its population during World War II.
OSI Director Eli M. Rosenbaum noted that the access that OSI gained to captured Nazi documents in other former Soviet republics was the most important factor in making possible the large number of new prosecutions his office has commenced in recent years against individuals who participated in Nazi-sponsored acts of persecution. Although the number of surviving Nazi persecutors and witnesses to their crimes has declined precipitously due to the passage of time, OSI initiated ten prosecutions in 2002 against Nazi persecutors, the highest single-year total ever recorded by the government.
OSI is the Justice Department unit responsible for identifying, investigating, and taking legal action to denaturalize and deport former participants in Nazi persecution living in the United States. Seventy-one individuals who assisted in Nazi persecution have been stripped of U.S. citizenship and 57 such persons have been removed from the United States since OSI began operations in 1979. In addition, more than 160 suspected Nazi persecutors have been blocked from entering the country.