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Thursday, 17 February 2000
Page: 13896

Mr Danby asked the Minister representing the Minister for Justice and Customs, upon notice, on 9 December 1999:

(1) Was the case against Mr Heinrich Wagner, concerning the murder of 19 children in Ukraine, dropped in 1992 because of Mr Wagner's alleged ill-health.

(2) Has the Minister's attention been drawn to a story on the ABC's 7.30 Report on 6 December 1999 which indicated that Mr Wagner is currently in good health; if so, can the case now proceed; if not, why not.

Mr Williams (Attorney-General) —The Minister for Justice and Customs has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) The prosecution of Mr Wagner was discontinued on 9 December 1993. The decision not to proceed with Mr Wagner's trial in 1993 was based on medical evidence of his then state of health.

(2) My attention has been drawn to the story on Mr Wagner on the ABC's 7.30 Report on 6 December 1999.

I have not been made aware of any medical evidence which contradicts the basis upon which that decision was made or which reveals the current state of Mr Wagner's health.

If evidence is forthcoming that Mr Wagner's health is, indeed, sufficiently improved to withstand the stress of a criminal trial, the question of a prosecution could be reviewed.

The health of the accused would not be the sole consideration in deciding whether to commence a new prosecution. The sufficiency of the available evidence would also need to be reviewed, including the availability of witnesses who may themselves have become ill or died during the period since Mr Wagner's prosecution was discontinued.