'Nazi guard' lawyer calls for acquittal

3rd May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Alleged Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk's lawyer Tuesday said his client was a victim and called for his acquittal in final arguments at the end of a high-profile trial in Germany.

Lawyer Ulrich Busch told the court in Munich, where the Ukrainian-born 91-year-old has been on trial since November 2009, that documents from Germany's federal office for investigating Nazi crimes proved his innocence.

"No individual accusation is evident in the documents provided," Busch said, quoting from a file provided by the investigating office in Ludwigsburg in 2003 based on information acquired from the United States.

Busch went on to describe his client as "a victim of Germany's justice system" who will have "lost out because of the trial" whatever the verdict.

Demjanjuk, who was deported from the United States in May 2009, where he had worked for decades as a mechanic, is now stateless.

"He will waste away in anonymity whether it be behind the walls of a prison or behind the walls of an old people's home", Busch said.

Demjanjuk has been attending his trial in a wheelchair or on a stretcher and his family has described him as gravely ill.

The accused, who as a Soviet Red Army soldier was captured by the Germans in 1942, has been charged with 27,900 counts of accessory to murder while a guard at the Sobibor extermination camp in German-occupied Poland in 1943.

He denies the charges. His lawyer has said he would demand damages if his client is found not guilty.

Prosecution lawyers have demanded six years, a shorter term than expected on the grounds of the age of the accused, because he did not volunteer to work in an extermination camp and because he only served there in a junior capacity.

Demjanjuk has also spent eight years in prison in Israel where he was sentenced to death in 1988 after being convicted of being a sadistic camp guard known as "Ivan the Terrible" at the Treblinka death camp.

He was later acquitted by the Israeli Supreme Court because of doubts over his identity.

Arguments for the defence are expected to be heard over three to four days.

A verdict in the trial, set to be one of the last major cases dealing with the crimes of the Nazis before and during World War II, is expected as early as next week.

© 2011 AFP

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