Supreme Court Denies Certiorari Alleged Nazi Guard Demjanjuk Hits Legal Brick Wall

Alleged Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk may have exhausted his legal options in the US. The Supreme Court refused to take his case on Thursday, opening the way for his immediate deportation for trial in Germany.


John Demjanjuk's alleged ID card.
DPA

John Demjanjuk's alleged ID card.

It has been a legalistic marathon, with all manner of twists and turns. But now it looks like the last barrier to the deportation of the alleged death camp guard John Demjanjuk from the US to Germany has been removed. On Thursday, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens rejected a request from Demjanjuk's lawyers to block the deportation.

Stevens made little comment on the case. The Demjanjuk request reached his chambers on Wednesday, with additional information being sent in on Thursday morning from Demjanjuk's defense attorney John Broadley. Just hours later, Stevens announced his ruling.

In theory, Demjanjuk would have the possibility to turn to other Supreme Court justices. But Broadley said his client would refrain from following that route. "That wouldn't get us anywhere," he told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "We're not going to do that." He said that all legal avenues had been exhausted. "We have done everything we could," he said.

An American court stripped Demjanjuk of his US citizenship in 2001 in a case related to similar accusations of war crimes allegedly committed by the 89-year-old former auto worker who lives in Cleveland, Ohio. That case likewise reached the end of the road when the Supreme Court decided not to grant certiorari in May 2008.

The case once again began making its way through the American legal system after public prosecutors in Munich issued a warrant for Demjanjuk's arrest. They accuse Demjanjuk, who was born in Ukraine, of having been a guard at the Sobibor death camp -- and of having been accessory to 29,000 murders while there. The arrest warrant immediately raised the possibility that he would be deported to Germany to stand trial.

Demjanjuk's attorneys have said that their client is too old and infirm to travel to Germany and stand trial and that a deportation would amount to "torture." The American court system, however, showed little sympathy for this line of argumentation. Broadley himself has already begun preparing for the next chapter of the legal battle -- in Germany. His first aim is that of ensuring that his client is given suitable medical checkups to ascertain his ability to stand trial.

Demjanjuk's son John, for his part, still hopes that Germany will withdraw its permission for his father's entry. On Wednesday, however, such a request filed by Demjanjuk's German lawyer Ulrich Busch with a Berlin court was rejected. Busch has filed an appeal.

"The case is ongoing in Berlin," John Demjanjuk told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "It's not over yet."

Indeed, a separate case is also still being considered by an appellate court in Cincinnati. That case, however, has little bearing on Demjanjuk's deportation. And should he be deported, he will never again be allowed back into the United States -- all ongoing court cases would be moot.

It remains unclear when Demjanjuk might be deported. A spokeswoman for the US Attorney General confirmed that no timeframe has been announced. It is likely, however, that it is merely a matter of ironing out the few remaining details. A Cincinnati court has ruled that Demjanjuk can only be flown to Germany in an air ambulance -- which must be chartered by the Attorney General's office.

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