Hon. Brooke Claxlon (Minister of National Defence):
Mr. Speaker, in view of the interest which has been expressed by a number of members from time to time in the Kurt Meyer case, I should like to make a brief statement with respect to his case and that of Johann Neitz, the only two German war criminals convicted by Canadian military courts still serving sentences. Their sentences are being served in a British administration prison at Werl, Germany.
The terms of the agreements between the occupying powers and Germany provided for the review of the sentences of war criminals. In view of the delay in bringing these agreements into effect, some time ago boards were set up in each of the British, United States and French zones to review the sentences of all convicted German war criminals still held in custody in those zones.
The Canadian government appointed Brigadier Sherwood Lett, Q.C., C.B.E., D.S.O., M.C., E.D., of Vancouver, to represent it as an observer when the cases of Meyer and Neitz were considered by the board set up in the British zone. This board has reviewed the sentences now being served by Kurt Meyer and Johann Neitz and has recommended that in both cases the sentences be commuted to fourteen years.
The recommendation of the board in each case was unanimous and Brigadier Lett has recommended that the government should accept the recommendation of the board.
After the most careful consideration of the circumstances the government has accepted the recommendation of the board.
Both Meyer and Neitz will be eligible for such remission of their sentences as they may have earned or may earn in accordance with the rules in force in the prison where they are confined and which are laid down by the British custodian.
I might add that I understand the reviewing boards' recommendations in each zone have
been accepted in each case by the governments of France, the United Kingdom and the United States.