Austria called Nazi 'paradise'

Feb. 2, 2006 at 5:41 PM

VIENNA, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- A bitterly critical director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center calls Austria a "paradise for Nazi war criminals."

In a Vienna news conference, Efraim Zuroff, director of the center's Jerusalem branch, criticized the Austrian government and legal authorities for failing to bring suspected Holocaust perpetrators to justice.

"(The government's) investigation of suspects is inadequate and the legal position is outrageous," he said. "In Austria war criminals are freely able to talk about their crimes."

Zuroff's broadside followed a meeting with the Austrian Interior and Justice ministers as part of the Wiesenthal Center's Operation Last Chance -- a program intended to bring older Nazi war crimes suspects to trial before they die, the London Independent said.

The Wiesenthal Center has identified 83 suspects in Austria who are still alive. But Zuroff said the 77 suspects currently being investigated by the Austrian authorities were being dealt with "slowly and passively."

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