US judge says Nazi guard Demjanjuk can be deported

7th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk, who changed his name from Ivan to John after emigrating to the United States in 1952, faces charges in Germany of assisting in the murder of at least 29,000 Jews at Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in World War II.

Washington -- A US judge on Monday lifted a stay of deportation against Nazi guard John Demjanjuk, opening the way for the 89-year-old to be extradited to Germany where he could be tried for crimes allegedly committed during World War II.

"This Court's order to stay respondent's removal is revoked effective April 8, 2009," US immigration judge Wayne Iskra said in a decision which reversed a short-lived order halting Demjanjuk's deportation.

The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk, who changed his name from Ivan to John after emigrating to the United States in 1952, faces charges in Germany of assisting in the murder of at least 29,000 Jews at Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in World War II.

US officials stripped Demjanjuk of US citizenship in May 2008, leaving him stateless.

Last month, the United States began the process of extraditing him to Germany to stand trial for the crimes he allegedly committed more than 60 years ago.

His lawyer applied for and won a temporary stay of deportation last week, arguing that the octogenarian was in poor health, and jailing and trying him in Germany would cause him pain amounting to torture.

But the brief stay was overturned on Monday by Iskra, who reasoned that jurisdiction over the motion to bar Demjanjuk's deportation did not lie with the immigration court.

In 2008, Demjanjuk ranked second on the Simon Wiesenthal center's "most wanted" Nazi criminal list, behind Aribert Heim, who according to a recent investigation died in 1992.

German prosecutors issued a warrant for his arrest last month, accusing Demjanjuk of complicity in the murder of tens of thousands of Jews at Sobibor death camp, where he served between March and September 1943.

Around a quarter of a million Jews died at Sobibor from when the camp was opened in the spring of 1942 until the Nazis shut it down after a mass uprising in October 1943, in which hundreds of prisoners managed to escape.

US investigators have brought together witnesses who described how Demjanjuk was seen at Sobibor, kicking Jews or hitting them with his rifle butt to get them out of railway wagons more quickly and into the gas chambers.

The Office for Special Investigations (OSI) in the United States described Sobibor "as close an approximation of Hell as has ever been created on this planet."

Former wartime inmates of Nazi camps in occupied Poland in 1977 identified Demjanjuk as brutal Ukrainian prison guard "Ivan the Terrible" during a US Justice Department investigation.

In 1988, Demjanjuk was sentenced to death by a court in Israel, but the sentence was overturned five years later by Israel's Supreme Court after statements from other former guards identified another man as the sadistic "Ivan."

AFP/Expatica

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