The Justice Department Criminal Division’s Office of Special Investigations was created 30 years ago to investigate and prosecute individuals who live in the United States and took part in Nazi war crimes committed during World War II. More than 60 years after WWII, there are few people with Nazi ties still alive which has forced the office to take a new direction, The Washington Post reported today.
The roughly 30 person office has turned its attention towards Africa and the Balkans as it enters the next chapter of its existence, according to The Post. The unit has filed charges for about six new war crimes cases including one that involves Lazare Kabaya Kobagaya, 82, of Topeka, Kan., who allegedly took part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, The Post said. The office is also investigating 80 other war crime cases, according to the newspaper.
But perpetrators of Nazi war crimes are still being pursued. Earlier this summer, the office paved the way for the deportation of former Nazi concentration-camp guard John Demjanjuk, 89, to Germany where he faces a war crimes trial.
Criminal Division chief Lanny Breuer told The Post that there is a possibility that OSI and the domestic security section, which investigates torture, could merge in the future.
“There are certain acts and obviously the Nazi prosecutions are an example, where we have a moral and ethical imperative to bring them to justice,” Breuer told The Post. “There has to be a component of the criminal division that deals with human rights violations, no matter how much time passes.”