Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Poland to seek extradition of Ukrainian Nazi veteran Hunka

On Tuesday, Poland’s Education Minister Przemyslaw Czarnek issued a statement saying he had “taken steps” to extradite Jaroslaw Hunka, a 98-year-old veteran of Ukrainian Nazi who was honoured by Canadian parliamentarians last week, according to Politico.

On Friday, House Speaker Anthony Rota introduced Hanka as a hero of the Canada-Ukraine war, prompting a standing ovation from parliamentarians.

However, Jewish organisations, human rights groups and leaders around the world have criticised the parliament’s gesture. Hunka fought in the First Ukrainian Division, also known as the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division, which served under Nazi command in Adolf Hitler’s World War II against the Red Army. Czarnek said on X, formerly Twitter:

In view of the scandalous events in the Canadian Parliament, which involved honoring, in the presence of President Zelensky, a member of the criminal Nazi SS Galizien formation, I have taken steps towards the possible extradition of this man to Poland.

Czarnek sent a letter to the Polish Institute of National Remembrance, which studies and investigates crimes against the Polish people, asking it to “urgently check” whether Hunka is wanted for crimes against the Polish people of Jewish origin. He also added that “signs of such offences are grounds for requesting his extradition to Canada”.

In an interview with journalists, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the situation was “extremely upsetting” and “deeply embarrassing” for Canada. Rota apologised and said he takes “full responsibility” for the incident, but declined to resign for now. Canada’s Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly added Tuesday:

What happened on Friday is completely unacceptable. It was an embarrassment to the House and to Canadians, and I think the Speaker should listen to members of the House and step down.

Canadian Attorney General Arif Virani said Poland had not yet contacted him about the extradition request and that “it is inappropriate to comment on the early stages of the extradition process.” He added:

What I would say to you is that an extradition process is a sensitive matter that ultimately comes across my desk for a final decision. Apropos of that, I can’t be commenting on an extradition matter until it actually appears in front of my desk because that would jeopardize the investigation.


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