Yahoo.News | Feb. 28, 2005 | Associated Press

Accused Nazi Appears at Hearing in Ohio

Mon Feb 28, 2005 3:22 PM ET

CLEVELAND - A man the government maintains was a Nazi concentration camp guard made his first court appearance in 12 years Monday at an immigration hearing to fight the government's attempt to deport him.

John Demjanjuk, 84, arrived in a wheelchair with members of his family and spoke only briefly during the hearing, telling the judge he was more comfortable speaking in Ukrainian than English.

Appearing by video from Washington, Chief Immigration Judge Michael Creppy granted a defense request to delay the start of Demjanjuk's deportation hearing until June 30.

Demjanjuk, whose health is failing, has lived in seclusion since returning to the United States in 1993 from Israel, where he had been imprisoned for being the sadistic Nazi guard known as "Ivan the Terrible."

Demjanjuk was an autoworker for Ford Motor Co. in 1977 when the Justice Department accused him of being the notorious Nazi guard who ran the gas chambers at the Treblinka death camp in occupied Poland during 1942 and 1943.

His citizenship was revoked in 1981 and he was extradited to Israel where he was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced to death. Demjanjuk eventually persuaded the Israeli Supreme Court to overturn the conviction based on new evidence that someone else was Ivan the Terrible.

Demjanjuk's U.S. citizenship was restored after returning to the United States, but in 1999, Justice Department officials again moved to revoke it, alleging he had been a guard at other Nazi death and forced labor camps. His citizenship was stripped in 2002 and officials asked a judge in December to deport him.

Demjanjuk, a native of Ukraine, has said he is a victim of mistaken identity.