Israel refuses to extradite 'genocide' suspect
By Yossi Melman
Israel has rejected a demand by the Lithuanian government that it extradite Nahman Dushanski, who is accused of "genocide" by Lithuanian authorities. Irit Kahan, director of the department for international cases at the Justice Ministry, sent Israel's response to the Lithuanian government through diplomatic channels.
The Lithuanian authorities allege in their extradition request that Dushanski, a former officer in the Soviet security agency NKVD, the precursor of the KGB, took part in the murder of Lithuanian prisoners during the Soviet occupation in 1941. In her response, Kahan stresses that not only does Dushanski deny the allegations against him but historians and other witnesses support his claim that he was not involved in the massacre.
The Israeli response also notes that 20 senior officers of the former Soviet security agency involved in similar incidents currently reside in Lithuania and the authorities there have made no efforts to bring them to justice. According to the response, the Lithuanian position is surprising and raises suspicions of prejudice.
Dushanski emigrated to Israel in the 1970s and worked for the Ministry of Defense, from which he retired.
Israel's refusal is based on the Law of Legal Assistance, which allows the Justice Minister to refuse extraditions. According to Israel's legal system, the law supersedes all international agreements to which Israel may be a signatory. This is the first time that the Justice Ministry is making use of the law.
The Lithuanian extradition request angered many Holocaust historians and Jewish organizations who saw the demand as a "despicable action," especially since the authorities there are methodically and for years delaying legal proceedings against Lithuanians accused of involvement in expulsions, abuse, torture and murder of Jews during the Holocaust.
Lithuania has also made an extradition request for Simion Borkov, who was allegedly involved in killing Lithuanians during the 1944-1947 period.