Demjanjuk 'escaped justice': Holocaust centre chief
The director of the Yad Vashem Holocaust centre in Jerusalem said that former Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk, whose death in Germany was announced on Saturday, had "escaped justice."
"The fact that he died a free man at the age of 91 is a failure of (judicial) systems, but on the other hand the fact that he was judged and condemned shows the responsibility of people at all levels in the Holocaust," Avner Shalev said in a statement.
"It is important to bring these officials before the courts. There can be no statute of limitations for the crimes of the Holocaust," Shalev said.
The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk, convicted last year in one of the last trials linked to the Holocaust, died in a care home in southern Germany, police said.
He was found guilty of more than 27,000 counts of accessory to murder from the six-month period when he was a guard in Poland at the Sobibor death camp in 1943.
The ailing Demjanjuk had been sentenced by a Munich court in May to five years imprisonment, but was released pending an appeal before a federal court, having already spent nearly two years in prison.
Efraim Zuroff, director in Israel of the Simon Wiesenthal centre that specialises in tracking down former Nazis, deplored the fact that Demjanjuk had died "in a bed in a home in Germany rather than in a prison cell."
In 1986, Demjanjuk was hauled before a court in Jerusalem accused of being "Ivan the Terrible," an infamous Ukrainian guard at the Treblinka death camp.
Initially convicted of all charges and sentenced to death in 1988, he was freed five years later when evidence surfaced suggesting Israel had got the wrong man.
One of the Israeli judges, Dalia Dorner, remained convinced however that he was the right man.
"He was identified by 11 survivors, and a former SS, it wasn't possible to get it wrong," she told Israeli public radio.
© 2012 AFP