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Convicted Ex-Nazi Begins Hearing

November 13, 2002

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) _ A former Nazi prison guard convicted of 11 wartime murders has deteriorated mentally since a fall in May, recently failing to recognize his wife, the woman testified Tuesday.

The hearing in the British Columbia Supreme Court is to determine the fitness of Michael Seifert, 78, a former SS officer convicted in absentia in Italy for raping, torturing and killing prisoners at a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.

Seifert, a Canadian citizen of Ukrainian origin, faces extradition to Italy to serve a life sentence. The Canadian government has started the process of stripping him of his citizenship.

Seifert’s lawyer, Doug Christie, argues that Seifert is too frail to undergo an extradition hearing. On Tuesday, Christie asked Seifert’s wife, Christine, if Seifert had difficulty recognizing her, and she said he recently approached her and shook her hand as if she was a stranger.

``People were laughing and saying, `Don’t you know your own wife,‴ she said. ``He was embarrassed and he walked away.″

In 2000, he was convicted by an Italian military court of murdering 11 people while serving as a guard at the camp outside Bolzano, a city in northern Italy near Austria. He refused to attend his trial in Verona, but he was represented by a lawyer.

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