URGENT Linnas Leaves For Soviet Union; Accuses U.S. of 'Murder, Kidnapping' With AM-Linnas
Apr. 21, 1987
NEW YORK (AP) _ Karl Linnas, hustled by police Monday to Kennedy International Airport for his deportation to the Soviet Union, accused the U.S. government of his ''murder and kidnapping.''
Linnas, who faces a Soviet death sentence on charges of supervising Nazi concentration camp executions, was put on a plane hours after the Supreme Court and the Justice Department turned down his bids to remain in the United States.
Linnas, 67, got on the Czechoslovak Airlines 10 minutes after other passengers boarded. After being driven to the plane, he slowly trudged up the stairs, wearing a gray suit and blue sweater and carrying a coat. Two plainclothes officers held him by the arms and another plainclothes officer and two uniformed officers followed.
Earlier, as Linnas was hustled into the airport police station, he yelled at reporters: ''What they're doing right now is just a murder and kidnapping.''
Linnas was tried in absentia in the Soviet Union in 1962, and was sentenced to death.
The flight will make a stopover in Prague before continuing to the Soviet Union, according to District Attorney Elizabeth Holtzman.
Asked if he was being sent to a certain death, Holtzman replied that was not necessarily the case because ''the Russians could retry him and change the verdict.''
''I hope the Russians give him a trial, allow him to present what evidence he may have. Obviously, the Russians don't have the same system of justice, but they can give him reasonable facsimile of a trial, and allow him to present evidence,'' she said.
She noted that ''he didn't present evidence here to rebut documented proof that he committed war crimes, but he ought to have whatever opportunity there is to make a defense.''
Holtzman was at the airport for the departure of the retired land surveyor from Greenlawn, N.Y.
''I just wanted to make sure that he took off. We've been following this case for eight years, with all its twists and turns,'' Holtzman said.
On the same flight as Linnas was Priska Horak of Bratislava, who spent a year in a concentration camp, according to her son, Ivan, of Silver Spring, Md. He said he didn't know if his 60-year-old mother was aware of Linnas' presence on the plane.
''I hope not,'' he said. ''It would be a really bad feeling for her, to be on the same plane.''
His father spent five years in camps and died, Horak said.
He and his mother had spoken about the Linnas case a few days ago. When she heard reports that Panama was considering granting him asylum, she said, ''For those who survived, it's unthinkable,'' according to the son.
Horak said his mother felt ''a combination sadness, anger and frustration'' that Linnas wasn't brought to justice sooner.
Menachem Z. Rosensaft, chairman of the World Jewish Congress, also was at the airport.
''I feel a sense of relief, not pleasure, not victory - a feeling that at last a measure of justice will be done for the victims,'' he said.
Asked about death for Linnas, he replied:
''There really no punishment that could adequately be given out for the crimes he and the others like him committed. What punishment he receives will not be enough. I leave it up to the courts in the Soviet Union to mete out whatever they believe to be appropriate justice.''
A friend of the Linnas family, Rein Olvet, 43, was in the boarding area because Linnas' daughters had asked him to witness the departure.
''It seems they wanted to punish him through any means possible. That's wrong,'' Olvet said. ''I'm not saying he shouldn't go on trial. If he did what they say he did, he should be punished.''
As Linnas' plane was taking off, Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist rejected a bid from Anu Linnas, one of his daughters, for a temporary stay blocking the deportation.
Linnas is accused of running a World War II concentration camp in the city of Tartu in Estonia, now part of the Soviet Union. Some 2,000 people were killed in the two years he ran the camp, 1941 and 1942.
Linnas has been held at the New York City jail since April 1986. He has lived in the United States since 1951. He became a U.S. citizen in 1959.
Immigration officials in 1979 charged that he entered the country under false pretenses. He was stripped of his U.S. citizenship in 1982, and has been fighting deportation since.
Linnas is the second accused Nazi war criminal to be deported to the Soviet Union from the United States.