Israel won't extradite Polish Jew accused of WWII genocide

By The Associated Press

Haaretz

Sivan 29, 5765

Israel has refused for a second time to extradite to Poland a Jewish man accused of crimes against German prisoners just after the end of World War II, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Polish prosecutors received the refusal in a letter from the Israeli Justice Ministry saying "there was no basis whatsoever to extradite" Solomon Morel, an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor, prosecutor Ewa Koj told The Associated Press.

Morel commanded a communist-run camp for German prisoners in southern Poland in 1945 after Soviet troops had occupied the country. Polish authorities accuse him of genocide by seeking to exterminate German prisoners by starving them to death, depriving them of medical care as well as carrying out torture and sanctioning torture by his subordinates.

Polish prosecutors charge that Morel is responsible for the deaths of at least 1,500 prisoners in the Swietochlowice camp.

Koj, a prosecutor with the government-run National Remembrance Institute in Katowice, said the Israeli ministry argued that the statute of limitations against Morel had run out. The institute investigates communist and Nazi-era crimes.

Koj quoted the letter as saying: "In light of the facts, there appears to be no basis to charge Mr. Morel with serious crimes let alone crimes of 'genocide' or 'crimes against the Polish nation.' If anything, it would seem to us that Mr. Morel and his family were clearly victims of crimes of genocide committed by the Nazis and the Polish collaborators.

Koj criticized Israel's decision, saying: "How can a statute of limitations run out on crimes against humanity?"

"There should be one measure for judging war criminals, irrespective whether they are German, Israeli, or any other nationality," she added.

Israel, which has no extradition treaty with Poland, in 1998 refused an extradition request based on charges of torture; the current request broadened the charges to genocide, for which there is no statute of limitations in Polish law.

Polish historians generally agree that the communist government imprisoned 100,000 Germans, mostly civilians deemed threats to the state after World War II. At least 15,000 died due to ill treatment, and the rest were freed by 1950.

Morel left Poland for Israel in 1994, after accusations against him surfaced.