Defense demands damages as Demjanjuk trial concludes

MUNICH, Germany Tue May 3, 2011 10:32am EDT

Accused Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk arrives in a courtroom in Munich April 13, 2011. REUTERS/Sebastian Widmann/Pool

Accused Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk arrives in a courtroom in Munich April 13, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Sebastian Widmann/Pool

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MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - John Demjanjuk's defense attorney demanded the 91-year-old accused of helping kill 27,900 Jews in the Holocaust be awarded damages for false imprisonment when final arguments in the high-profile trial began Tuesday.

Prosecutors are seeking a 6-year jail term for Demjanjuk in what is possibly the country's final Nazi war crimes trial, which began in the southern German city of Munich 18 months ago.

"Prosecutors and plaintiffs have not put forward a single piece of evidence that show the guilt of my client," defense attorney Ulrich Busch told reporters outside the courtroom.

Busch said his demands were: "Acquittal for the defendant, release from prison and damages for false imprisonment. If not, then there will be an appeal."

The defense is expected to conclude its final arguments either later this week or early next week. The Munich court said it has not yet set a date when it will hand down its verdict. Ukraine-born Demjanjuk has denied any role in the Holocaust. He said he was drafted into the Soviet army in 1941 and became a prisoner of war.

"There won't be an apology because my client is not criminal," Busch said. "An innocent man does not have to apologize for his innocence."

Prosecutors say Demjanjuk, who was once top of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of most wanted war criminals, of assisting in killings at the Sobibor death camp in Poland.

Demjanjuk denies having worked at Sobibor, where the center said some 250,000 Jews were killed.

Demjanjuk's family says he is too frail for trial, which he has attended in a wheelchair and lying down.

In February, Demjanjuk threatened a hunger strike if documents from his KGB file from Russia and Ukraine were not considered by the court.

Demjanjuk emigrated to the United States in 1951 and became a naturalized citizen in 1958, working as an engine mechanic.

He was previously sentenced to death in Israel in 1988 for being the notorious guard "Ivan the Terrible" at the Treblinka camp, but the ruling was later overturned by Israel's Supreme Court after new evidence exonerated him.

(Writing by Eric Kelsey; editing by Alison Williams)

(This story was corrected in paragraph six to clarify information on Demjanjuk)

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Comments (1)
Telepen wrote:
“Demjanjuk, who was once top of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s list of most wanted war criminals” – nice piece, Oliver Klasen demonstrates just what a propaganda is.
Why? Because he mentions that Demjanjuk was once top of that list, but forgets to add that he was there when he was considered Ivan Terrible by SWC. Since that time Israel found that Demjanjuk is not Ivan Terrible.
But this is not to be mentioned by Oliver Klasen. Because he has very high ethic standards. Interesting, what he will think if police will once mistake him with some Jack the Ripper, and even though in the following court he will be found innocent other Reuters journalists will always mention that he was considered Jack the Ripper?

May 05, 2011 9:08am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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