German court throws out bids to dismiss 'Nazi guard' case

20th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

A German court said Thursday it had thrown out applications to dismiss the case against John Demjanjuk, a 90-year-old accused of helping to murder 27,900 Jews as a guard at a Nazi death camp.

Five judges in the southern city of Munich took the decision on the defence applications while the Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk spent his third day in hospital after complaining of heart problems.

Several applications to throw out the case "have been rejected because the accused is still strongly suspected of the crimes alleged against him in the charge sheet," the court said in its decision.

Demjanjuk is accused of spending six months in 1943 at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, pushing thousands of Jews into gas chambers. He denies the charges.

With no witnesses able to say they could remember Demjanjuk, the prosecution has built its case on an ID card it says links him to Sobibor. Demjanjuk denies the charges and says the document is a forgery.

His lawyer also challenged the qualifications of expert witnesses for the prosecution.

Demjanjuk's family says he is suffering from serious health problems and will likely not survive the trial.

Doctors have judged him fit to stand trial but limited the time he can appear in court. Sessions have repeatedly been postponed after Demjanjuk complained of pain or dizziness.

Demjanjuk's son, also called John, accused the court of "bias."

"The court sees that my father is dying and not fit for trial so they are putting forth a baseless rush to judgement as the show may come to an end without an actual verdict, a verdict which they cannot justify based upon the record of the trial," he told AFP.

In what is set to be one of the last major cases of its kind, the court has scheduled sessions until September 14, but given the frequent interruptions, the trial may continue well beyond that date.

© 2010 AFP

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