msnbc | 12Aug2009 | Associated Press

Demjanjuk lawyer calls for case to be closed
Alleged Nazi death camp guard’s attorney says charges violate precedent

BERLIN - John Demjanjuk's attorney filed a motion Wednesday calling for the Nazi death-camp case against his client to be closed, saying the charges against him violate German legal precedent.

Attorney Ulrich Busch said in a filing faxed to the Munich state court that even if it could be proved that Demjanjuk trained as a death camp guard at the SS's Trawniki camp and served at Sobibor in Nazi-occupied Poland, he shouldn't have been charged.

Busch argued that previous German courts have ruled that others in similar situations could not be held criminally responsible, because they risked serious punishment if they did not follow orders. The filing was provided to The Associated Press by Demjanjuk's son.

The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk denies the accusations against him. He maintains that he was a Red Army soldier who was held as a prisoner of war and never hurt anyone.

He was taken to Munich from his suburban Cleveland home in May after losing a court battle to avoid deportation from the United States, and was formally charged by Bavarian prosecutors last month as an accessory to the murder of 27,900 people at the Sobibor death camp.

The Munich state court must now decide whether to accept the charges -- usually a formality -- and set a trial date.

Among the documents obtained by the Munich prosecutors is an SS identity card that features a photo of a young, round-faced Demjanjuk along with his height and weight. It says he worked at Sobibor.

German prosecutors also have a transfer roster that lists Demjanjuk by his name and birthday and also says he was at Sobibor, as well as statements from former guards who remembered him being there.

Still, Busch maintained in his motion that "There's not a thread of evidence that he even served in Trawniki or Sobibor."

In a second motion Busch filed Wednesday, he called for the dismissal of the case saying that the charges from Munich prosecutors are based on "pure speculation."

It was not clear when the court would rule on the motions.