Poland seeks extradition of Nazi honoured in Canadian Parliament

The announcement was made by the Polish Education Minister Przemyslaw Czarnek, regarding the extradition of the 98-year-old Ukrainian-Canadian war veteran who had received praise in the Canadian parliament last week.

| Updated: 27 September, 2023 8:40 pm IST

The Polish government may initiate the process of extraditing Nazi war veteran Yaroslav Hunka, who had received praise in the Canadian parliament last week. The announcement was made by the Polish Education Minister Przemyslaw Czarnek, regarding the extradition of the 98-year-old Ukrainian-Canadian man who fought in a German-Nazi division during the Second World War.

“In view of the scandalous events in the Canadian parliament, which involved honouring a member of the criminal Nazi SS Galizien formation in the presence of President Zelensky, I have taken steps toward the possible extradition of this man to Poland,” said Education Minister Przemysław Czarnek.

Minister Czarnek published a copy of the letter he sent to the head of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) – a state historical body with prosecutorial powers – asking him to “urgently determine whether Yaroslav Hunka is wanted for crimes against the Polish nation or Poles of Jewish origin.”

“Such crimes constitute grounds for applying to Canada for his extradition,” added Czarnek in the letter.

Hunka has been at the centre of an international controversy after he was presented as a “war hero” by the Speaker of Canada’s House of Commons, Anthony Rota, during a visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Rota recognized Yaroslav Hunka as a “Ukrainian hero and a Canadian hero” on Friday, adding that “we thank him for his service.”

Hunka received two standing ovations from Canadian lawmakers and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who delivered remarks in parliament that day. However, it soon surfaced that Hunka had fought for the Waffen-SS Galicia Division, a Nazi military unit, during World War II.

This revelation led to protests, including from Jewish groups and Poland’s ambassador to Canada, who pointed out that Hunka had been part of an SS division of Ukrainian volunteers that served under Nazi-German command and had been accused of war crimes.

Rota subsequently resigned, and apologised stating that he had not been fully aware of Hunka’s wartime history. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who had also participated in the ovation, expressed that the incident was “upsetting and embarrassing.”

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