Lawyers for alleged Nazi war criminal Andrija Artukovic asked a federal magistrate in Los Angeles on Monday to release him on bail rather than allow the government to move him cross-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 that 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 today.
Brown said last week that he considered the move unfair but was not sure he has the legal authority to stop it.