B.C. court turns down Nazi war criminal's extradition appeal

The B.C. Court of Appeal has ruled a Nazi war criminal living in East Vancouver should be extradited.

East Vancouver resident, 83, was once known as 'the Beast of Bolzano'

A Nazi war criminal living in East Vancouver lost hisappeal to stay in Canada on Friday.

Italy wants Michael Seifert to serve the rest of his life in prison there.

His lawyer, Doug Christie, had asked the B.C. Court of Appeal to stop his extradition. Christie now says he will file an appeal with the Supreme Court and seek bail for Seifert, who was arrested on Friday.

"I'm trying to demonstrate that this is really cruel and unusual and is oppressive and unjust," said Christie.

On November 24, 2000, Michael Seifert was convicted in absentia by an Italian court on charges that he murdered, raped and tortured Jews at a German concentration camp in Italy during the Second World War. In August 2003 the B.C. Supreme Court ruled Seifert should be extradited.

His lawyers have been fighting a legal battle to keep him in Canada ever since, at times claiming he is not mentally competent and that the trial in Italy did not meet Canadian judicial standards.

"I'm trying to overturn the judgment of the [B.C.] Supreme Court, which ordered this extradition on hearsay and evidence from dead witnesses and evidence that wouldn't be admissible in a Canadian court," said Christie on Saturday.

The head of the Canadian Jewish Congress said he's relieved the B.C. Court of Appeal has upheld the extradition order.

Bernie Farber, the chief executive officer of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said this decision will send a message that Canada isn't a home for war criminals.

"We ought to remember him as he was when these crimes took place, a young, strong brute who was involved, it is alleged, in some horrendous war crimes. He has had the opportunity to live to 83 years old, the victims to which he's alleged to have taken action against did not have that luxury."

The Ukrainian-born Seifert moved to Canada in 1951 and settled in Vancouver.

At the trial of the former SS prison guard seven years ago in Italy, a handful of survivors testified Seifert was the young SS guard they called "the Beast of Bolzano."

Bolzano was a transit camp, part of a network of collection centres for Jews and others perceived by the Nazis as undesirables before they were deported to extermination camps.