HC Deb 07 December 1950 vol 482 cc88-9W
Mr. G. Jeger

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has yet received a reply from the Soviet Government to his representations about the case of Eugen Stefanowicz, who escaped to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics last July with the help of the Soviet authorities after a warrant for his arrest on a charge of murder had been issued in this country.

Mr. Ernest Davies

As there had been no reply to previous oral inquiries, a note was sent to the Soviet Government on 7th August inquiring their intentions in this case. It was pointed out that Stefanowicz could have been returaed to this country from Sweden under normal extradition procedure had they not caused him to be removed from the vessel on which he was travelling and they were asked whether, in these unusual circumstances, they were now prepared to return him to the United Kingdom. The Soviet reply received on 20th September expressed the view that, being a Soviet citizen, Stefanowicz could not be released for trial outside the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Government no doubt have their reasons for stating that Stefanowicz is now a Soviet citizen. But whatever his present nationality, it is clear that he previously regarded himself as a Pole and was, in fact, one at the material time. In any case, his nationality makes no difference to the fact that he was accused in this country of a serious crime and should, according to the commonly accepted principles of justice, have stood his trial in the United Kingdom. Our complaint against the Soviet Government, which they have made no attempt to answer, is that it was only thanks to their direct intervention that he was able to escape.

It is not clear what prompted the Soviet Government to procure the escape of a man charged with a sordid crime or what advantage they expected to reap by so doing. Nevertheless, their action was clearly contrary to accepted standards of international behaviour and demonstrates once more their disregard for the practice of civilised nations, even in matters devoid of political significance. His Majesty's Government consider it useless to pursue the matter further and can only regret that the Soviet Government should have gone to such lengths to defeat the ends of justice.