Demjanjuk threatens hunger strike as trial nears end

MUNICH, Germany Tue Feb 22, 2011 6:08am EST

Accused Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk is brought to a courtroom in Munich, February 22, 2011. Demjanjuk, accused of helping to kill 27,900 Jews in the Holocaust, will go on a hunger strike unless the court allows him to present evidence that could exonerate him, his lawyer said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Lukas Barth/Pool

Accused Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk is brought to a courtroom in Munich, February 22, 2011. Demjanjuk, accused of helping to kill 27,900 Jews in the Holocaust, will go on a hunger strike unless the court allows him to present evidence that could exonerate him, his lawyer said on Tuesday.

Credit: Reuters/Lukas Barth/Pool

MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - John Demjanjuk, accused of helping to kill 27,900 Jews in the Holocaust, will go on a hunger strike unless the court allows him to present evidence that could exonerate him, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Ulrich Busch, who is defending the 90-year-old in a Munich court against charges of assisting in killings at the Sobibor Nazi death camp in Poland, said Demjanjuk would begin the hunger strike within the next two weeks.

Busch said there are documents in a KGB file from Russia and Ukraine that could prove Demjanjuk is innocent. He read a statement for Demjanjuk in which he accused Judge Ralph Alt of conducting a political "show trial."

"This is a mockery of justice," Busch said on Demjanjuk's behalf.

Prosecutors are expected to conclude their case Tuesday and final arguments could also begin unless Demjanjuk's health deteriorates, a Munich court spokesman said. A verdict could be reached in March.

The 15-month trial has been delayed periodically as Demjanjuk has refused at times to attend sessions on grounds of ill-health even though he was declared fit by doctors.

German state prosecutors accuse Demjanjuk, who was top of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of most wanted war criminals, of assisting in killings at Sobibor, where they say at least 250,000 Jews were killed. He denies having worked there.

His family says he is too frail for trial, which he began in November 2009 in a wheelchair and attends lying down.

Demjanjuk was born in Ukraine and fought in the Red Army before the Nazis captured him and recruited him as a camp guard during World War Two. He emigrated to the United States in 1951 and became a naturalized citizen in 1958.

(Reporting by Christian Kraemer and Eric Kelsey; Writing by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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