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Age editorial response: War crimes cases are not closed.



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MEDIA RELEASE

Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Minister for Justice and Customs

Senator for South Australia

 

05/00 

Wednesday, 5 January 2000

 

 

AGE EDITORIAL RESPONSE: WAR CRIMES CASES ARE NOT CLOSED

 

 

The assertion in the Age editorial of 5 January 2000 that I have ruled out further investigation of allegations against Konrad Kalejs is false and should not stand uncorrected. I have made it clear on numerous occasions that any new leads will be followed up by the Australian Federal Police.

 

It is not in the interests of anybody to mount a trial with little realistic prospect of success. An acquittal would rule out the possibility of further prosecution on the same charges in Australia. It would also prohibit extradition of a person to another country on those charges, even though that country may have better access to ready evidence.

 

Surely it would be preferable to leave open the option of a trial either in Australia or elsewhere based on better evidence than that currently available to Australian authorities.

 

The Age editorial also refers to the possibility of extradition to the countries where events took place as the best prospect for bringing suspects to justice. This may well be the case. Any extradition, however, depends on a request from another country.

 

Australian authorities have and will continue to cooperate with authorities in other countries. Amendments to Australian war crimes legislation have now streamlined extradition processes to reflect the changed circumstances in former Eastern Bloc countries.

 

It is important to recognise that the values which drive our efforts to ensure that people accused of war crimes face justice are the very same values which demand due process of law in handling of all investigations and prosecutions by Australian authorities.

 

Minister available through Kevin Donnellan 0419 400 078

 

 

als  2000-01-13  12:53