DETROIT – An 88-year-old retired auto engineer told a judge Tuesday that he never shot Jews while serving in a Nazi-controlled police force during World War II, during an initial hearing over whether the government can deport him.
Speaking through his lawyer, John Kalymon, of suburban Detroit, denied the U.S. Justice Department's assertion that he claimed to have fired his gun at least eight times and killed a Jew in August 1942, when Jews were being rounded up and removed from what is now Lviv, Ukraine.
Judge Elizabeth Hacker told the Justice Department to file a brief detailing its case by early 2010. Kalymon's lawyer, Elias Xenos, would have until Feb. 26 to respond to the brief. A trial date has not been set.
Kalymon was stripped of his U.S. citizenship in 2007, and the government is seeking to deport him. It hasn't been determined where he would go.
"My heart is pounding a little bit harder. I'm too old and sick," Kalymon told The Associated Press after the brief hearing.
There is no dispute that Kalymon, in his early 20s, served 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.
Xenos described the police unit as a group with little authority, comparable to a reserve force guarding streets and rooms in police stations.
But the government says Kalymon should be deported because his service resulted in the persecution of civilians. He also failed to disclose the police job when he applied to enter the United States in 1949.
The Justice Department became aware of Kalymon 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 his client.
In 2007, however, a federal judge stripped him of his citizenship, a decision that was upheld by an appeals court.
"It's turned our life upside down," Kalymon's son, Alex Kalymon, said of the case. "I'm very disturbed. My father's not done anything wrong."