Judge rejects mental-health claim in Nazi-tie case

By Ed White

Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) -- An immigration judge cast doubt on mental-health problems claimed by an 89-year-old Michigan man who has been ordered deported for his service in a Nazi-controlled police force during World War II.

John Kalymon's lawyer had asked for a competency hearing, saying dementia would prevent the retired auto engineer from testifying in his own defense about events from the 1940s. But Judge Elizabeth Hacker said no.

"A mental-competency hearing is not required where a respondent, as here, has had competent and able legal representation and the opportunity to submit evidence and present and cross-examine witnesses," Hacker said in a 28-page opinion that ordered Kalymon's removal.

The decision to deport him was announced Monday, but the actual opinion was not released at that time. It was obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.

Hacker said there's "overwhelming" evidence that the Troy resident failed to disclose his role in the police force when he applied to enter the U.S. in 1949. The U.S. Justice Department, citing records, said the former engineer shot at Jews, killing one, although Kalymon denies it.

Kalymon isn't going anywhere immediately. He plans to appeal Hacker's decision, first to the Board of Immigration Appeals and, if necessary, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The process will take several months.

"He's sick. He's frail. He doesn't know much about what's going on," said Kalymon's attorney, Elias Xenos.

There is no dispute that Kalymon, in his early 20s, carried a gun while serving in the Nazi-sponsored Ukrainian Auxiliary Police in Lviv, which was part of Poland until the Soviet Union and Germany invaded the country in 1939.

But Xenos said Kalymon did little more than guard streets and rooms in police stations. Kalymon didn't list the police force when he applied to immigrate to the United States after the war because he feared he would be rejected and sent to the Soviet Union.

In ordering deportation, the immigration judge relied on evidence presented in a separate but related matter in U.S. District Court, where Kalymon was stripped of his American citizenship in 2007.

The Justice Department became aware of him after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 when World War II-era archives became accessible. Xenos insists the government is relying on forged handwriting that doesn't belong to Kalymon.

"You can use a lot of adjectives to describe evidence in this case but 'overwhelming' isn't one of them," Xenos said of Hacker's decision. "That I found objectionable."

If the deportation is upheld, Kalymon could be sent to Germany, Ukraine, Poland or any country that would accept him.

"Mr. Kalymon participated in the Nazi-led effort to exterminate the Jews of Europe during World War II, and committed atrocities to achieve that goal," Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said in a statement. "Neither he nor other human rights violators should be allowed to gain sanctuary in this country."

Published: Fri, Feb 4, 2011