April 6, 2009 / 2:57 PM / 11 years ago

Demjanjuk has life-threatening illnesses: son

RICHFIELD, Ohio (Reuters) - John Demjanjuk suffers from illnesses that could kill him in two to five years, and German prosecutors seeking to put him on trial should send a doctor to see the accused Nazi death camp guard’s frailty, his son said on Monday.

John Demjanjuk, 89, being examined by Dr. Carlos Quinones-Ortiz (L) at his home in Seven Hills, Ohio, in this family video released to Reuters on April 3, 2009. REUTERS/John Demjanjuk Jr./Handout

John Demjanjuk Jr. made the comments about his 89-year-old father after a U.S. immigration judge in Washington lifted a stay of deportation against the retired automobile industry worker but said he could still pursue his bid to reopen the case with another U.S. government board.

The son said his father has a precancerous bone marrow condition — a “major life-threatening illness that perhaps gives him two to five years to live” — as well as chronic kidney disease, kidney stones and arthritis of the spine.

“I think it’s critical for Germany to have a medical trained expert, a doctor familiar with German standards, take a look at my father and see what kind of condition he’s in,” the younger Demjanjuk told Reuters Television at his home in Richfield, a Cleveland suburb.

Moving him, much less putting him in jail or on trial, violates international standards against torture, he said.

“If we just look at the facts of what is going on here and them (German prosecutors) not having the slightest concern over the fact that he has multiple illnesses, is unable to travel, could never be put on trial, could never be involved in his own defense, says to me that they’re acting more like Nazi Germany than the Federal Republic of Germany,” the son said.

The Ukraine-born Demjanjuk faces charges in Germany in the deaths of 29,000 Jews. He denies any role in the Holocaust, saying he was drafted into the Russian army in 1941, became a German prisoner of war a year later and served at German prison camps until 1944.

Demjanjuk was to have been deported on Sunday to Germany but the same judge who halted that move last week ruled on Monday his bid to reopen the case should have been taken to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

‘STILL HOPEFUL’

The younger Demjanjuk said that would be done on Tuesday, along with a request to reinstate the stay barring his father’s deportation. That stay will be lifted on Wednesday.

“We’re still hopeful,” the younger Demjanjuk said.

Demjanjuk was sentenced to death in Israel in 1988 for being the sadistic guard “Ivan the Terrible” at Treblinka where 870,000 died. That country’s highest court later ruled he was not “Ivan” and he returned to the United States.

But U.S. officials in 2002 stripped him of his citizenship a second time, saying that he had worked at three other camps and hid that information at his U.S. entry in 1951.

Germany wants to try him for complicity in deaths in 1943 at Sobibor, part of Germany in 1944 but now located in Poland.

The home of John Demjanjuk is seen in Seven Hills, Ohio, March 11, 2009. REUTERS/Ron Kuntz

“I know my father never hurt anybody or I wouldn’t be able to sit here with you and defend him,” the son said.

“I would never have been able to sit on the dock in the state of Israel, before millions of people, before hundreds of people that were emotionally asking for his beheading basically, and defend him,” he added.

“I know that he’s not the type of person that would’ve been involved in persecuting anyone, murdering anyone, hurting anyone, murdering anyone. And there is no evidence to say that he hurt one person, let alone 29,000,” he said.

Written by Michael Conlon in Chicago; additional reporting by Jim Vicini in Washington; Editing by Will Dunham

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