Swiss officials said yesterday that Valerian Trifa, the Romanian Orthodox archbishop accused of being a Nazi sympathizer who incited bloody rioting during World War II, likely will be refused permission to settle in Switzerland when he is deported from the United States.
Trifa, 68, agreed Thursday to be deported after admitting that he lied to immigration authorities, covering up his pro-Nazi activities, when he entered the United States 32 years ago. He said he wanted to resettle in Switzerland.
Peter Vogler, the press officer for the Swiss Embassy here, said yesterday that Trifa has not made a formal request for asylum or a residence visa. Swiss officials, who asked not to be identified, said any request to live in Switzerland would involve a background check and that it was very unlikely that Switzerland would admit a former Nazi collaborator.
Allan A. Ryan Jr., head of the Office of Special Investigations at the Justice Department, said that if the Swiss refuse to admit Trifa the government will find another country to accept him.
At a Detroit news conference yesterday, Trifa denied all the government charges and called himself a victim.
"I had to acknowledge it the charges to sign the agreement with the government," he said. "It was part of a way to come to an end to this . . . . I feel victimized by the fact that things are picked up and enlarged in such a way as to mean completely different things."
Under the deportation agreement, Trifa has no right of appeal.
Trifa, who heads the 35,000-member Romanian Orthodox Episcopate based in Grass Lake, Mich., said he decided to accept deportation for the good of the church.
In Southfield, Mich., the president of the parish council of St. George Cathedral, one of four Detroit area churches in Trifa's episcopate, said Trifa will remain leader of the church, presiding from wherever he settles.
But Trifa's attorney, William Swor of Detroit, said that while his client is talking with church officials, he has not yet decided whether to keep his leadership position.
Meanwhile, Nazi hunter Charles Kremer, a retired New York dentist who pursued Trifa for three decades, told United Press International that banishment to Switzerland was not "punishment for him under any conditions."
"He leaves the country as a rich man, a very rich man," Kremer said. "I intend to go after him even there, through contacts with Jewish organizations. He must not have any rest under any circumstances."
Trifa has denied inciting anti-Semitic violence, but acknowleged that when he entered the United States he concealed his activities in the Iron Guard, a pre-World War II anti-Semitic group.
The government was prepared to present testimony that Trifa had been an ardent Nazi supporter who wrote inflammatory newspaper articles and made anti-Jewish speeches. Ryan said Trifa was the editor of a "viciously anti-Semitic" Romanian newspaper, Libertatia, which was the mouthpiece of the Iron Guard in Romania.
The government charged that Trifa, through his speeches, set off four days of riots in Bucharest in 1941 that resulted in the deaths of 236 Jews and Christians.
When Trifa entered the United States in 1950 he said he had been confined in Nazi concentration camps, but Ryan said he was in fact "given sanctuary by the Nazis" after his movement failed in Romania.
Ryan said Trifa, who was stripped of his U.S. citizenship in 1980, is the first Nazi supporter to be ordered deported in nearly 30 years.
Andrija Artukovic, a cabinet-level officer in the Nazi puppet government of Croatia, was ordered deported in 1953, but still lives near Los Angeles. He was allowed to stay because at the time it was feared he would be persecuted in Yugoslavia. Ryan said he has renewed the deportation efforts against Artukovic and the case is pending in court.
Ryan's special section, created in 1979 to investigate and prosecute deportation cases involving Nazi war criminals in this country, is involved in prosecutions of 25 former Nazis and is investigating 210 others.