Demjanjuk’s death hastened by medication, complaint says


An attorney for convicted Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk filed a complaint with German prosecutors claiming that his death was hastened by medication administered at a nursing home in Bavaria.

Ulrich Busch asked prosecutors in Rosenheim, Bavaria, in a 12-page complaint to open an investigation of five doctors and a nurse, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

The complaint posits that a specific pain medication, common in Germany but banned in the United States, led to Demjanjuk’s death in March as he awaited an appeal of his conviction last year by a Munich court for his role in the murder of 27,900 people at the Sobibor death camp in Poland.

Born and raised in Ukraine, Demjanjuk immigrated to the United States following World War II. In 1986 the Cleveland-area autoworker was sent to Israel to face trial on charges of being the notorious Treblinka guard “Ivan the Terrible.” An Israeli court sentenced Demjanjuk to death, but the Israeli Supreme Court ordered him released due to reasonable doubt while noting that substantial evidence emerged during the trial identifying him as a guard at Sobibor.

Demjanjuk returned to suburban Cleveland in 1993 and resisted multiple attempts to strip him of his U.S. citizenship and deport him again. But in 2009, U.S. authorities deported him to Germany, and in May 2011 he was convicted for his crimes in Sobibor. Demjanjuk was sentenced to five years in prison.

Former Nazi Guard John Demjanjuk dies at 91


John Demjanjuk, the Cleveland auto worker convicted as a death camp guard, died in a German nursing home.

Demjanjuk, 91, died Saturday at an old-age home in southern Germany, where he was free while he appealed his conviction last year in the murder of 28,060 people at the Sobibor death camp in Poland, NPR reported.

Demjanjuk, born and raised in Ukraine, was first identified as “Ivan the Terrible,” a notoriously sadistic guard at the Treblinka death camp, in the 1970s.

In 1986, U.S. authorities deported him to Israel.

A court there sentenced him to death, but during bhis appeal process, the Israeli prosecution uncovered evidence suggesting that another man who had died in the Soviet Gulag in the 1950s was “Ivan.”

The Israeli Supreme Court ordered him released, noting however that substantive evidence emerged during the trial identifying him as a guard at Sobibor.

He returned to Cleveland in 1993, and resisted multiple attempts to strip him of his citizenship and deport him again until U.S. authorities deported him to Germany in 2009.

There he was convicted in May 2010 for his crimes in Sobibor, and was sentence to five years in prison.

FBI report calls Demjanjuk evidence a forgery


A secret FBI report from 1985 suggests a key piece of evidence in the trial of accused Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk in Munich may have been a KGB forgery.

The German court announced Thursday that it would not suspend the trial over the document, and critics say the old report reflects outdated information.

“The facts show that the report of the Cleveland office are an irrelevant—and dangerous—basis for any consideration in the Demjanjuk case,” Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, said in a statement April 13.

Steinberg said those who wrote the report in 1985 had not even examined the ID card. But in subsequent years, “the original ID has been subjected to the most intense scrutiny by courts and investigators on three continents”—including in the current case.

The Associated Press obtained the formerly classified Cleveland FBI report from the National Archives in Maryland suggesting that ID card 1393, which allegedly indicates Demjanjuk was transferred from the SS Trawniki training camp to the Nazi death camp Sobibor, might be a forgery by the KGB, the Soviet-era secret service.

Last year, a technical expert from the Bavarian Criminal Police Office testified that he had compared the ID with four other original cards and determined it was authentic. The same card reportedly also was analyzed by U.S. and Israeli authorities in earlier trials of Demjanjuk.

The FBI statement had not been seen by the defense or prosecutors in the Munich case, or in the trials in Israel and the U.S., according to the AP. Demjanjuk’s attorney, Ulrich Busch, requested a pause in the trial, which is supposed to conclude with a verdict in mid-May.

Demjanjuk, 91, is charged as an accomplice to the murder of 27,900 Jews in Sobibor in Poland in 1943.

Busch maintains that his client, a Ukraine native, was taken prisoner by the Nazis and was forced by them to become an SS guard.

Demjanjuk immigrated to the United States after the World War II and lived in suburban Cleveland. He was later stripped of his citizenship for lying about his Nazi past. A death sentence against him was overturned in Israel after its Supreme Court found reasonable doubt that he was the notorious guard “Ivan the Terrible” at the Treblinka death camp.

In May 2009, Demjanjuk was deported from the United States to Germany. His trial on the Sobibor charges began late that year.

Demjanjuk threatens hunger strike


Accused Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk said he will start a hunger strike in two weeks unless new evidence is introduced in his trial in Germany.

On Tuesday, the day scheduled for final arguments in his 16-month trial in Munich, Demjanjuk was brought into the courtroom holding a sign bearing the number 1627, the number of a file that defense attorney Ulrich Busch says might hold the key to his client’s release.

According to news reports, Busch is demanding this and other materials be introduced as evidence. He also wants judges who presided over previous trials in Israel and the United States to testify.

Demjanjuk, who was already been subjected to trials by the U.S. and Israel, threatened to begin a hunger strike within two weeks if the files are not introduced.

A former Ohio autoworker, Demjanjuk, 90, is charged as an accessory to the murder of 29,700 Jews at the Sobibor death camp in Poland in 1943. Ulrich, who maintains Demjanjuk was forced by the Nazis to train as an SS guard, also on Tuesday read a statement from his client in which he once again refers to himself as the victim of a “political show trial.”

“At the end of my life, Germany—the country that murdered millions of people—is trying to extinguish my dignity, my soul and my spirit,” read the statement in part.

Busch is demanding that the court introduce 100 new items of evidence, Reuters reported. The court suggested that these requests might be part of a delaying tactic. The last scheduled court date is March 23.

A Ukrainian native, Demjanjuk, immigrated to the United States after the war and lived in suburban Cleveland. He was later stripped of his citizenship for lying about his Nazi past. A death sentence against him was overturned in Israel after the Supreme Court found reasonable doubt that he was a guard at the Treblinka death camp. In May 2009, he was deported from the United States to Germany, where he is standing trial on the Sobibor charges.

Recently, a Spanish court requested that Demjanjuk be extradited to stand trial for war crimes there as well.

Expert cannot confirm Demjanjuk signature


A handwriting expert witness failed to confirm whether a signature on a Nazi death camp ID card was that of John Demjanjuk.

In testimony at one of the last sensational war crimes trials in Germany, handwriting expert Beate Wuellbeck last week told the Munich state court that not enough letters were clear on the Sobibor identification card and thus she could not verify the authenticity of the signature.

Demjanjuk, 90, is charged as being an accessory to the murder of 29,700 Jews at the Sobibor death camp in Poland in 1943. He is suspected of being a brutal guard trained at the nearby Trawniki camp.

Meanwhile, for the first time since the trial began in November 2009, members of Demjanjuk’s immediate family have attended the proceedings. On Wednesday, his daughter Irene Nishnic reportedly brought a white rose into the courtroom. A grandson also reportedly attended.

Demjanjuk, a native of Ukraine, immigrated to the United States after World War II. He was deported in May 2009 to Germany to stand trial. Spanish courts recently requested that he be extradited to stand trial for war crimes there as well.

According to reports, a decision in the Munich case could come this March.

Spain Indicts Demjanjuk for Crimes Against Humanity


The Supreme Court of Spain has indicted accused Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk on charges of being an accessory to genocide and crimes against humanity.

The court on Jan. 14 requested an international arrest warrant for Demjanjuk, who is accused of being a Nazi concentration camp guard. The court issued the ruling a week earlier but did not make it public until Jan. 14.

Demjanjuk is accused of being responsible for the deaths of 50 of 155 Spanish prisoners in the German concentration camp Flossenburg. He is being charged in Spain under the country’s legal doctrine of universal jurisdiction, which allows it to try human rights crimes even if they did not take place on Spanish soil.

Demjanjuk, 90, a former Ohio autoworker, is currently being tried in Germany on charges of accessory to the murder of 27,900 Jews in the Sobibor death camp in 1943.

The Spanish court has requested that Demjanjuk be extradited to Spain following his trial in Germany, according to reports.

Demjanjuk’s trial in Munich began on Nov. 30, but it has been postponed several times because of his ill health.

Demjanjuk arrives in Germany


John Demjanjuk must be put on trial “as quickly as possible,” a German Jewish leader said.

Demjanjuk, 89, arrived Tuesday in Germany to stand trial for war crimes committed during World War II. His trial is likely to be one of the last such cases stemming from the Nazi era.

Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said the courts were now in a “race against time.”

“All possible legal measures must be taken to bring [him] to court as quickly as possible,” she said Tuesday in a statement from her office in Munich.

Police in Munich confirmed Tuesday that Demjanjuk, deported from the United States Monday night on a medically equipped charter flight, arrived in the city at about 9:20 a.m. He was to be formally arraigned and taken to the hospital wing of Stadelheim Prison to await trial.

Demjanjuk, a retired autoworker, was removed from his suburban Cleveland home on Monday by ambulance and taken to the airport, accompanied by a doctor and nurse. Family members held up a floral bed sheet to block onlookers from witnessing his departure.

In March, Munich prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Demjanjuk, accusing him of serving as a guard at the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland in 1943 and being involved in the murder of at least 29,000 Jews.

Demjanjuk, who contests the charges, has lived since 1952 in suburban Cleveland. His later years have been spent fighting accusations of involvement in
wartime crimes against humanity.

In the early 1980s, he was accused of being the notorious guard “Ivan the Terrible” at the Treblinka death camp, but was released from jail in Israel after seven years when another Ukrainian was identified as “Ivan.”

The U.S. Justice Department charged Demjanjuk with being a guard at Sobibor and revoked his citizenship in 2002 for lying about his Nazi past to gain entrance to the United States His deportation was approved in 2005. Germany requested his extradition in March.

Demjanjuk fought the deportation to Germany, finally losing an appeal last week in the U.S. Supreme Court. His lawyers said he was too ill to make the trip and withstand trial.

Knobloch thanked the prosecutors in her home city for their persistence in pursuing the Demjanjuk case.

“This is not about revenge,” she said, “but about justice for a crime with which this alleged Nazi war criminal has been charged by the Munich prosecutors.”