Nazi Guard Demjanjuk’s Lawyer Calls For Trial Suspension Due To ‘Poor Health’

(Yeshiva World)  Accused Nazi guard John Demjanjuk’s lawyer called Tuesday for his trial to be abandoned because of his client’s poor health and because he was cleared by Israel in an earlier case.

“I call for the trial to be stopped,” Ulrich Busch told the court in the German city of Munich on the second day of what is likely to be the last major Holocaust trial.

Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk, 89, is charged with assisting in the murder of 27,900 people as a guard from the concentration camp in Westerbork (Holland) to the Sobibor extermination camp in German-occupied Poland in 1943.

Demjanjuk, who changed his name from Ivan after moving to the United States after World War II, was sentenced to death in Israel in 1988 for being “Ivan the Terrible”, a sadistic Nazi guard at another camp, Treblinka.

But after five years on death row the conviction was overturned by Israel because of doubts about his identity, although it was established there that Demjanjuk was a guard at Sobibor and at other camps.

“My client was forcibly deported from the United States even though he has a terminal illness,” Busch said, and that “without a doubt” he was now beingtried for the same crimes for the second time.

Germany’s constitutional court ruled in July that the charges he now faces were not the same as the ones in the earlier trial. Medical experts told the Munich court on Monday that he was well enough to be tried.

Seventeen Dutch nationals act as ‘Nebenkläger,’ co-plaintiffs in the trial, thereby playing an important role in the criminal prosecution of John (Iwan) Demjanjuk, which will probably be the last significant trial of a former Nazi.

At least 170,000 Jews, over 33,000 of whom were from the Netherlands, were murdered in Sobibor in just 18 months.

In prosecuting homicide cases, including those where the charge is being an accessory to those crimes, German criminal law assigns the role of co-plaintiffs to the crime victims’ immediate family (parents, siblings and spouses). Like Public Prosecutors, co-plaintiffs can present witness testimony, deliver closing addresses and determine the severity of the sentence.

In addition to the seventeen co-plaintiffs who attend the trial in Munich, five others are represented as co-plaintiff by German attorneys instead of travelling to Germany.

Avner Shalev, chairman of the Yad Vashem Memorial Institute in Jerusalem said on the opening of the trial: “Unquestionably trials centered on crimes committed during the Holocaust serve as significant forums for raising awareness about the Holocaust. They provide an opportunity to highlight not only events but to explore society-wide and individual responsibility for the atrocities that were committed during that time.”

He added: “There can be no statute of limitations on crimes committed as part of the Holocaust. Although this trial is being discussed as possibly the last Nazi war crimes trial, other trials are taking place, and may take place in the future.”

(Source: EJP / AFP)

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