US releases former Nazi guard after Europe states refuse custody

[JURIST] A former guard at the Nazi Mauthausen concentration camp [Wikipedia backgrounder] in Austria has been released from a Michigan jail after Germany, Romania and Hungary all refused to take custody of him, according to a spokesman for the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website]. Johann Leprich, 81, joined the Waffen-SS [Wikipedia backgrounder] and worked as a guard at the concentration camp in 1943-44. Leprich was an ethnic German born in Romania who came to the US in 1952 and eventually became a US citizen. His citizenship was revoked, however, when federal officials discovered that he lied on his application by not admitting that he had worked at the Mauthausen camp where prisoners were beaten, tortured, starved, and killed. Leprich fled to Canada [Windsor Star report] and in 2003, he was arrested [DOJ press release] after an investigator found him hiding in a secret room in his Michigan house. Earlier this year, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit refused to overturn [opinion, PDF] a lower court decision allowing the 1987 order revoking Leprich's citizenship to stand.

US immigration authorities allowed Leprich's release earlier this week after his attorney asked a federal judge to free him based on the US Supreme Court's ruling in Zadvydas v. Davis [text; NILC backgrounder], where the Court held that the government may only hold prisoners for six months when they are waiting for deportation. Leprich, who had been in US custody for approximately 40 months, will be required to wear an ankle monitor and check in with US authorities on a weekly basis. The ICE spokesman said the US was still attempting to find a country in Europe to take Leprich. Reuters has more.

 

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