THIS 1st DAY OF AUGUST, 2003
FOR ORDER AND ORDER
Waterloo man voices disgust with government's early
BRIAN CALDWELL, PETER
Oberlander and his wife, Margret,
with daughter Irene Rooney (in background) leave court in
KITCHENER (Nov 5, 2003)
Helmut Oberlander accused the federal
government of "fraud" yesterday for publicly naming him as a
suspected war criminal without even trying to prove it.
On a break during a long day of legal wrangling in a Kitchener courtroom, the
retired Waterloo developer made a
rare point of expressing his disgust with the handling of the
Oberlander, 79, was found by a Federal Court of Canada judge in 2000 to have obtained his citizenship
fraudulently by failing to disclose his service with a notorious
Nazi killing unit when he came here from Germany in the early 1950s.
That finding is at the heart of government efforts to have him deported despite numerous delays and appeals
that have since bogged the case down and likely mean the ultimate
outcome won't be decided for several years.
"The fraud was committed by the government nine years ago when they accused me of being a war criminal,'' said
Oberlander, backed by about 40 supporters in the courtroom.
When it first targeted him in 1995, the federal government alleged Oberlander was directly involved in mass
executions and other Second World War atrocities.
But when a hearing began several years later, the government didn't produce any evidence he personally
participated in war crimes while serving as an interpreter with a
unit that killed thousands of civilians, mostly Jews, in Ukraine from 1941 to 1943.
Instead, federal lawyers successfully argued that Oberlander lied about his role with the unit while applying
to emigrate to Canada.
The federal cabinet used that finding of fact by Justice Andrew MacKay to strip Oberlander of his citizenship
in 2001, paving the way for his deportation.
The latest legal twist in the case involves an application by Eric Hafemann, a lawyer for Oberlander, to have
deportation proceedings stayed by Mr. Justice Robert Reilly of
the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Kitchener.
After two days of arguments, Reilly has yet to decide whether he even has jurisdiction to hear the application.
But yesterday, the judge ordered an interim stay of a deportation
hearing scheduled to resume Monday until that issue has been
Donald MacIntosh, a lawyer for the Immigration Department, said lawyers for
Oberlander are merely trying to
delay his deportation by pursuing "every available remedy open to
Hafemann said he will argue the government repeatedly violated Oberlander's constitutional rights by
changing its policies after launching civil proceedings against
At first, he said, the government announced it would only pursue German war
veterans if there was evidence they personally
participated in war crimes.
But by the time cabinet revoked Oberlander's
citizenship, Hafemann said, the policy had been expanded to
include anyone "complicit" in atrocities, not just active participants.
"My allegation is that it was done to specifically get Oberlander,'' said Hafemann. "It really amounts
to taking away his citizenship unlawfully.''
MacIntosh said there is "not a scintilla" of evidence the government acted improperly and Oberlander has
already lost several rulings after making the same arguments in
other courts. The hearing in Kitchener is scheduled to resume Monday.