August 08, 2007

Nazi war criminal held in Canadian jail

A cowardly convicted Nazi war criminal living in Canada was in jail this weekend after an appeals court upheld an extradition order from Italy, where he was convicted in absentia.

Michael Seifert, the so-called "Beast of Balzano," was sentenced to life after being found guilty in 2000 of nine counts of murder, committed during his term as an SS guard at the Bolzano prison transit camp in northern Italy.

The Italian government alleged the 83-year-old Seifert beat, tortured, starved and murdered inmates. People testified that Seifert starved a 15-year-old prisoner to death, gouged out a person's eyes, beat prisoners before shooting them and tortured a woman before killing her and her daughter.

While admitting he was a guard at the camp, Seifert has denied being involved in atrocities.

The Canadian court said the crimes were of the worst order, but Seifert's lawyer, Doug Christie said he was appalled by the decision.

Christie said he would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.

"The government of Canada has promised in the past to try any war crimes in Canada," Christie said.

The Canadian court ordered that Seifert be surrendered to Italian officials on seven of the nine counts.

There is a complete CBC file on Seifert here and here.