Odynsky persecuted by Canadian courts

Thursday, March 15, 2001
Ottawa Citizen

Dear Editor:

The letter by Dagnija Innus "Ordinary people, caught in Nazi evil, shouldn't be treated as criminals" (Ottawa Citizen, 08/03/01) was most thoughtful, intelligent, and clear-sighted. How sad for Canadian justice that Mr. Odynsky, having been victimized by the Nazis, is now being persecuted by the Canadian courts.

How is it that our authorities did not find the time or interest to deport a recently-arrived convicted Mafia hit-man, but spent an inordinate amount of time and taxpayers' money harassing a person who is, according to the court records, "of good character", who has spent 50 years as an exemplary Canadian citizen, and for whom there is " no evidence he participated in killing or harming prisoners".

According to the court records, he was among Ukrainian guards who were "not directly responsible for guarding the labourer-prisoners. The prisoners were under direct supervision of Jewish 'capos', who were responsible for maintaining order and discipline among them, and within the factories German civilian staff directed their work." Furthermore, "there is no doubt (his) service ... was not voluntary".

The court records that detail the harsh life of the young Mr. Odynsky and his victimization by the Nazis make for powerful and overwhelming reading.

Nazi war criminals should certainly be brought to justice. But these witch-hunts, for that is what they are, are being conducted on the flimsiest of pretexts, and are a disgrace to the Canadian justice system. Surely our courts have more important and relevant issues to deal with than questioning the immigration to Canada, 50 years ago, of a solid and law-abiding citizen.

Irene Bell