Trend News | 15Feb2009 | dpa

Germany to advance Demjanjuk inquiry, reports magazine

15.02.2009 23:11

German prosecutors are expected this week to advance their war-crimes inquiry against John Demjanjuk, 88, who is accused of herding people to gas chambers in the Nazi death camp Treblinka, dpa  reported.

The news was reported by magazine Der Spiegel ahead of publication of its Monday issue.

An identity card indicating Demjanjuk was in the SS paramilitary group which ran the camps was the key to his conviction by an Israeli court in 1988. But the Israeli Supreme Court freed him in 1993 over concern that this certificate might be a Soviet forgery.

The certificate contains the Ukrainian's photograph, an SS service number and notes of his service at two Nazi sites.

It will be flown to Munich this week, where Bavarian police forensic experts will check it, Spiegel reported. The document was kept in Washington and was only allowed to be taken outside the United States by a federal official, the magazine added.

Spiegel said Eli Rosenbaum, who heads the US war crimes investigations office, would take it to Germany.

He and a US historian would also meet with German federal police. In 1987, German federal police experts pointed out discrepancies on the certificate which led to doubts about its authenticity. The US side was to ask if those doubts still remain valid.

Spiegel said the Munich prosecutors, who have taken over the file, were also moving to interview witnesses still alive and obtain documentary evidence before applying for the extradition of Demjanjuk from the United States.

He lived in Germany as a refugee before being resettled in the United States in 1952. He is alleged to have been a brutal camp guard nicknamed Ivan the Terrible who operated gas chambers that killed 29,000 people.

[W.Z. This is obviously the Trawniki ID card that played a prominent role in the Jerusalem Show Trial in 1987-88. The Israelis sent the card to Germany for analysis, where German forensic experts stated that a preliminary cursory analysis indicated that the card was a crude forgery. The Israelis quickly stopped further analysis and retrieved the card. Most people who have examined the card concur with this assessment.]