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Konrad Kalejs: current situation.



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Media Release

 

John Anderson

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Transport and Regional Services

 

KONRAD KALEJS: CURRENT SITUATION

 

The Acting Prime Minister, John Anderson, today advised that a thorough search of government records has failed to revea l any letter from the Prime Minister to alleged war criminal Konrad Kalejs.

 

The Prime Minister made a media statement on this matter on 6 May 1998. He said:

 

Press reports today that I have ruled out the prosecution of Konrad Kalejs are completely false a nd without foundation.

 

Currently, the Australian Federal Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions have examined all of the available evidence and advised the Government that it is insufficient for prosecution.

 

The decision to prosecute is always a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions and is made on the basis of available evidence and the prosecution policy of the Commonwealth.

 

However, if any new evidence comes to light, I would expect it would be carefully examined by the proper authorities with a view to possible prosecution.

 

This has always been the Government ‘s position and will remain so.

 

Mr Anderson said the Acting Opposition Leader, Simon Crean, was wrong to claim that the Federal Government had closed the investigation into Konr ad Kalejs. The books have never been closed,” Mr Anderson said.

 

“While the investigation was suspended by the Australian Federal Police in 1993 for lack of evidence, his case remains open, and like any other criminal investigation, will be reactivated if new evidence is brought forward.

 

“The investigation into Mr Kalejs was previously reactivated in 1994 when Labor was in power and there were reports of new evidence in the United States. It was reviewed again in 1997 after investigations in Canada.

 

“On both occasions the evidence was judged by the proper authorities as being insufficient to bring Mr Kalejs to trial under the War Crimes Act.

 

“Federal police investigators would welcome any new information and let there be no doubt that if incriminating new evidence is provided Mr Kalejs will be pursued.”

 

Mr Anderson noted that Latvian authorities had reopened their investigation into Mr Kalejs and indicated that Australia would, as it had in past investigations, cooperate fully with Latvian authorities.

 

Australia had provided information to Latvian authorities in the past.

 

He said that in recent years Australia had been seeking to establish an extradition  relationship with Latvia and last month the War Crimes Act was amended at the Coalition’s initiative to remove one of the barriers to establishing such a relationship.

 

Mr Anderson said the last thing this matter needed was for charges to be laid against Mr Kalejs on the basis of insufficient evidence and risk an acquittal which would give immunity from prosecution, even if the most damning evidence was uncovered.

 

“That would also guarantee Mr Kalejs could never be extradited on similar charges.”

 

9 January 2000

 

Media contact: James Baker on (0417) 225 176

 

 

dd  2000-01-12  09:20

 

 

 

dd  2000-01-12  09:20