Cleveland Plain Dealer | 23Apr2009 | John Caniglia

Video of John Demjanjuk shows him walking without assistance

Videos of John Demjanjuk walking briskly indicate he is healthier than he has claimed and is fit to be deported to Germany for helping the Nazis kill Jews, federal prosecutors said late Thursday [23Apr2009].

Prosecutors released tapes that show the 89-year-old Demjanjuk getting in and out of a car without help April 6, 2009 -- a contrast, authorities say, to the man who groaned in apparent pain as agents carried him from his home April 14, 2009 in a wheelchair.
[W.Z. Why would the Office of Special Investigations -- the "rogue element" within the U.S. Department of Justice -- spend U.S. taxpayers dollars to have John Demjanjuk under constant surveillance? A real spy thriller complete with hidden cameras!]

The agents were prepared to place him on a plane to Munich that night, but the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati granted a last-minute reprieve. He remains at home while the court decides whether he should be deported.

The videos add to the white-hot debate over whether Demjanjuk, who suffers chronic kidney disease and anemia, should be deported for his wartime past or stay with his family in Seven Hills.

Also Thursday, the family filed a video with the court. It was taken by a WKYC Channel 3 cameraman inside their home April 14, 2009 as agents helped carry out Demjanjuk. A woman cried in the background as she watched him being wheeled to the door.

"This is not right," she said. "This is not right. You don't do this to animals. You don't do this to humans."

His family said sending him to Germany would amount to torture. The WKYC video shows him wailing in pain as he is moved from his bed.

The government's [W.Z. Caniglia presumably means the OSI] videos, however, "show [Demjanjuk] walking briskly, smiling and animatedly conversing and otherwise engaging in conduct that belies his health claims [and] offer further support for the conclusion that he is fit to fly," prosecutors said in documents.

Prosecutors also filed affidavits of immigration agents who helped Demjanjuk from his home and stayed with him much of the day on April 14, 2009. The agents said Demjanjuk appeared stiff when they tried to move him at his home. He continued to groan in the van when it struck bumps.

Later in the day, he walked and appeared to become more mobile at the federal building in downtown Cleveland, where he was held, the agents said. After the appellate court granted the reprieve hours later, Demjanjuk's family prepared to take him home.

"I helped him climb into the pickup truck, a Ford F-150, with a rather high seat," immigration agent Aaron Roby wrote in an affidavit. "He had no more difficulty than I would expect from someone his age getting into the truck, and he scooted over once he climbed in."

Demjanjuk's son, John Jr., called the videos "an act of desperation. Absolutely. If that's the best they can do and that's their best shot, then we'll deal with it."

He said his father goes weekly to the doctor to get a shot that treats a blood disorder to keep him alive. That's where agents videotaped him. He said the spinal pain can be horrific one day and better the next.

"Just because he can walk and talk has absolutely no bearing on whether he can fly at 30,000 feet," Demjanjuk Jr. said.

Prosecutors said Demjanjuk's appeals are nothing but delay tactics to prevent him from being deported.

But Demjanjuk's attorney said in filings Thursday that he is simply seeking to prevent a mistake, similar to what occurred in 1985, when the 6th Circuit permitted Demjanjuk to be extradited to Israel.

He was charged, convicted and sentenced to death, only to have the Israeli Supreme Court throw out the conviction.

"This time, perhaps, judicial inquiry before the deed is done can prevent an injustice," John Broadley wrote.

After Demjanjuk returned from Israel, a federal judge found that he had worked as a guard at three camps, including Sobibor, where German officials say he helped in the deaths of thousands of Jews.

In 2005, he was ordered deported, though no country would take him until Germany agreed to earlier this year. He has claimed that he served in German POW camps and never worked for the Nazis as a guard.