SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Mar. 17)
A superior court has cleared the way for the extradition to the Soviet Union of Bohdan Koziy, a native of the Ukraine who fled the United States for Costa Rica after being accused of war crimes, the World Jewish Congress reported.
Koziy was stripped of his American citizenship in 1982 following a trial in Florida in which eyewitness testimony described his murdering a Jewish family — including the point-blank shooting of a four-year-old Jewish girl — while a member of the Ukrainian police which operated under the Nazi occupation forces.
In June 1984, the U.S. Justice Department obtained a court order of deportation against Koziy, but he escaped to Costa Rica where the Soviets asked for his extradition to stand trial. A lower court had previously rejected the Soviet request, but the Superior Penal Tribunal of Alajuela reversed that decision and has ordered Koziy’s extradition.
The WJCongress released Justice Department documents — obtained under the Freedom of Information Act — showing that West Germany refused an American request that it ask for Koziy’s extradition to stand trial.
The German diplomatic note conceded Koziy’s participation in the killing but it refused to initiate extradition proceedings because it characterized the crimes as “manslaughter” rather than murder because the killings could not be shown to have involved “cruelty, inequity, lust for murder, and base motives.”
In San Jose, Public Prosecutor Roberto Steiner said the superior court’s ruling could not be appealed. He added, however, that Koziy may not be handed over to the Soviets unless Moscow pledged that he would not be executed if convicted.