Subject: Wall of secrecy shields police hunt for killers

Herald Sun

Wall of secrecy shields police hunt for killers

Ben Packham

March 17, 2009 12:00am

AT least six suspected war criminals are living in Australia after entering the country legally.

The Australian Federal Police are investigating the cases after tip-offs by immigration authorities.

The cases are believed to involve refugees from the former Yugoslavia and possibly Africa and East Timor.

They are among 25 alleged war criminals referred to the AFP by the Department of Immigration since 1997.

The Herald Sun learned of the cases despite a wall of secrecy put up by the Department, which refused to detail the operations of its dedicated war crimes unit.

It is believed the cases do not include that of alleged Nazi <news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,25166306-5005961,00.html> Charles Zentai, 87, who is fighting extradition to Hungary from his home in Perth.

A recent research paper by the <http://www.lowyinstitute.org> Lowy Institute found Australia could be a haven for war criminals from conflicts across the world. Former diplomat Fergus Hanson said successive governments had adopted a "no policy" approach to war criminals.

"There are good reasons to believe that significant numbers are living here," he said in the policy brief.

The <http://www.bnaibrith.org.au> B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission urged police to thoroughly investigate the allegations.

"Australia is a Western democratic country. It is one of the last places on earth alleged war criminals should be able to find safe haven," B'nai B'rith executive officer Ari Morris said.

"Nazi war criminals used to run to Argentina or Syria. Australia shouldn't be in league with those sorts of countries as a place that provides safe haven."

Mr Zentai is accused of beating a teenage Jewish boy to death in Budapest in November 1944.

Another alleged war criminal facing extradition is Dragan Vasiljkovic, now known as Daniel Snedden, who has been held in a maximum-security Sydney jail for the past three years.

Mr Snedden, 54, who led a Serb paramilitary unit during the war in Croatia in the early 1990s, is wanted by Croatia over allegations he beat a prisoner of war and ordered troops to fire on civilians.

The Lowy Institute said there were good reasons to believe that significant numbers of war criminals lived here.

Yugoslavia, Cambodia, Rwanda, East Timor, Afghanistan, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Lebanon and Sierra Leone were likely countries of origin.


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