A senior Polish government official has initiated proceedings to extradite Yaroslav Hunka, a 98-year-old Ukrainian.
Mr. Hunka, who once served in a German-Nazi division during World War II, and recently drew significant attention after he was given a standing ovation in Canada's parliament.
“In view of the scandalous events in the Canadian parliament, which involved honouring, in the presence of President Zelensky, a member of the criminal Nazi SS Galizien formation, I have taken steps towards the possible extradition of this man to Poland,” announced education minister Przemysław Czarnek, Notes from Poland reported.
He has released a letter addressed to the chief of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) – a governmental historical institution with prosecutorial authority – in which he inquires “urgently [establish] whether Yaroslav Hunka is wanted for crimes against the Polish nation or Poles of Jewish origin”.
“Such crimes constitute grounds for applying to Canada for his extradition,” added Czarnek in the letter.
Recently, Hunka became the focal point of global controversy when he was introduced as a “war hero” by Anthony Rota, the speaker of Canada's House of Commons, amidst a visit from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Following the introduction, the assembly accorded Hunka with a standing ovation.
This sparked reactions, notably from Jewish organizations and the Polish ambassador to Canada. They highlighted that Hunka had affiliations with an SS division consisting of Ukrainian volunteers under Nazi-German leadership, a division alleged to have committed war crimes.
Speaker of Canada's House of Commons, Anthony Rota, later expressed regret, admitting a lack of complete awareness of Hunka's wartime past. Ultimately, Rota resigned as House Speaker.