Suspected Concentration Camp Guard: John Demjanjuk To Be Extradited
He's nearly 89 and his family claims he is seriously ill. But John Demjanjuk, the suspected concentration camp guard, will be sent to Germany from the United States on Sunday. His trial is meant to be held in Munich, but his son hopes the case won't get that far.
John Demjanjuk, Jr., has tried everything: On Wednesday afternoon he personally brought a plea for clemency from his father, the suspected Nazi concentration camp guard John Demjanjuk, to the office in charge of the older man's deportation. The 88-year-old Ukrainian asked the US government for a waiver from his extradition to Germany. "I am not a security risk," he wrote in his appeal. "I am making this request for urgent humanitarian reasons."
Demjanjuk's health is so bad that deportation to Germany for trial would be an "inhuman act," claims his American lawyer John Broadley, citing the UN Convention Against Torture.
But his appeal was given no audience, and Demjanjuk's trip to Munich is now set. On Sunday he's due to fly from Ohio and land on Monday in Germany.
Graphic: The Sobibor Death Camp
In 1988 he was convicted by an Israeli court of crimes at the Treblinka concentration camp in what is the present-day eastern Poland. An Israeli high court acquitted him, though, in 1993, before he was executed.
The US government rescinded his American citizenship years ago for the suspected crimes at Sobibór, but the measure was finalized only last May. Demjanjuk fought the charges from the outset: He said he had never worked for the Germans as a guard at a death camp.
Demjanjuk's family and lawyers have long relied on the old man's health as a reason to resist extradition. Medical reports seen by DER SPIEGEL say Demjanjuk suffers from a rare early form of leukemia which mainly afflicts older men. His doctors also attest that he has kidney stones and a chronic kidney condition. According to his son, because of arthritis he can no longer stand without help, and walks only short distances.
Two weeks ago in Cleveland, Ohio, the family sent Demjanjuk to an official checkup. His German defense team had asked to have him examined in America by a Bavarian-approved doctor to determine his fitness for trial. "My father would possibly have survived the flight to Germany (for a checkup)," argued John, Jr., "but then if they determined that he was too sick, then the Germans would have him by the neck and could keep him from coming back." The stateless Demjanjuk had so far not been examined by a doctor, according to his family.
The Office of Special Investigations is a section of the US Department of Justice devoted to human-rights violations and, in particular, Nazi criminals. Its steady pursuit of the measure to revoke Demjanjuk's citizenship showed a political will to extradite him, and now all the formalities have all been resolved. The US has even promised to provide a temporary identity card for Demjanjuk -- who turns 89 on Friday -- and to send a doctor as well as an immigration officer with him on the plane to Munich.
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