Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman has asked his German counterpart to reevaluate the case of Nazi war criminal Klaas Carel Faber, who is currently living as a free man in Bavaria.
Faber, who is Dutch, collaborated with the Nazis during their occupation of the Netherlands and served in the ranks of the SS. According to Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff, Faber murdered more than 20 Jews at the Westerbork concentration camp, where many Dutch Jews were sent.
After the war he was caught, tried and sentenced to death in the Netherlands for the murder of 11 people. But his sentence was commuted to life in prison, and in 1952, he managed to escape and made it to Germany.
Ever since, Germany has refused repeated requests to extradite him, arguing that he is a German citizen. The reason Faber has German citizenship is that a law enacted by the Third Reich granted German citizenship to collaborators and supporters of the Nazis in various occupied countries.
On the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of Nazi war criminals who are still at large, Faber is number five.
Two months ago, the British tabloid The Sun broke the story that Faber was living in freedom and photographed him taking a walk in the park with his wife. Following the report, the German Justice Ministry announced that it would reevaluate the issue.
Jerusalem-based attorney David Schonberg then began urging Neeman to press his German counterpart to find some way of bringing Faber to justice.
"Different German states interpret the law in different ways," he said. "In Bavaria, the interpretation of the law is very restrictive, and therefore, unlike in another similar case, they were unable to overcome the obstacles and find a way to punish him."
Schonberg also organized a petition signed by 150 Israeli attorneys to demand that the government press Germany on the matter.
"In its request to Germany, Israel should demand the immediate extradition of the criminal Faber to the Netherlands, and also an overall change in the policy that allows Nazi criminals not to stand trial and prevents their extradition," the petition stated.
The chairman of the Israel Bar Association, Yuri Geiron, voiced similar demands in a letter of his own to Neeman.
Two days ago, Neeman acquiesced and asked his German counterpart to reconsider the case.
Zuroff said that for an Israeli justice minister to approach the German government about punishing a Nazi war criminal is very rare in the relationship between the two countries.
"I cannot remember such a thing," he said. "And it could undoubtedly help - especially if the Germans are interested" in bringing Faber to justice.
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