- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 2, 2003

A Michigan man was arrested yesterday on charges he served as a guard at a Nazi death camp during World War II and belonged to Germany’s infamous “Death’s Head Battalion,” which helped seal the fate of Jews in the camps by assuring they and other prisoners did not escape.

Johann Leprich, 77, of Clinton Township, Mich., was arrested at his home on immigration-related charges by agents from the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency within the new Department of Homeland Security.

ICE spokesman Garrison Courtney said Mr. Leprich was found hiding in a secret compartment beneath the stairs of his home.

The arrest, announced by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and Attorney General John Ashcroft, had been requested by the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which petitioned a federal immigration court in Detroit to deport Mr. Leprich for his service as an armed guard at a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.

“This is another example of the results that can be achieved when federal and local law- enforcement authorities work together and combine their resources,” said Mr. Ridge.

ICE agents said Mr. Leprich immigrated to the United States in 1952 and became a naturalized citizen in 1958. In a 1987 decision revoking his U.S. citizenship, U.S. District Judge Barbara Hackett found that Mr. Leprich had served as an armed SS Death’s Head guard at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Austria from late 1943 to at least April 1944.

They said the court found that inmates at Mauthausen were used as slave laborers in a quarry located at the camp, and that many inmates were starved, beaten, tortured and killed by a variety of methods, including gassing, hanging, electrocution, drowning, burning, starving and shooting.

After Mr. Leprich’s citizenship was revoked, his attorney told federal authorities he had left the United States.

“People who took part in these horrific crimes against humanity should know that we will never stop looking for them. There is no statute of limitations on evil,” said ICE boss Michael J. Garcia.

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