Lawyers for alleged Nazi war criminal Andrija Artukovic asked a federal magistrate in Los Angeles Monday to release him on bail rather than allow the government to move him across the country to a federal prison hospital, where his health might deteriorate.
"If he is sent to a federal prison and hospital in Missouri, he will become psychotic, depressed and deteriorate physically," said a defense psychiatrist, Dr. David Gottlieb, whose sworn statement was attached to legal briefs filed by the defense.
Attorney Michael Dacquisto, who filed the documents with U.S. Magistrate Volney V. Brown Jr., suggested that the move to Missouri could endanger Artukovic's life and that bail should be granted instead.
The 85-year-old defendant, who has been ordered extradited to Yugoslavia, is legally blind, has heart trouble and suffers from numerous other ailments, including senility.
The government, which has held Artukovic at Long Beach Naval Hospital during extradition hearings, told Brown it is too costly to keep him there and announced plans to move him to the U.S. Medical Facility at Springfield, Mo.
The magistrate scheduled a hearing on the matter for today.
Brown said last week that he considered the move unfair, but was not sure he has the legal authority to stop it.
"It is a concern to this court and all of us who have come to know this gallant old man that his physical health be protected," Brown said then. " . . . I am filled with apprehension and concern for this man."
Yugoslavia Seeks Trial
The government of Yugoslavia seeks to try Artukovic for thousands of murders carried out when he was interior minister of the Nazi puppet state of Croatia.
But Brown has ordered his extradition on only one murder charge detailed in the Yugoslav indictment. He has granted a 60-day stay of his order, to allow Yugoslavia to add more names to the indictment.
Artukovic's attorneys have said they plan to appeal the extradition order, and predicted that it could take months or years before Artukovic could be returned to his native land. He has been fighting extradition and deportation efforts for nearly 40 years.