haaretz.com | 04Apr2009 | Natasha Mozgovaya

U.S. slams court decision to halt Demjanjuk's deportation

The U.S. Department of Justice criticized a court decision to halt the deportation of suspected Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk to Germany for possible trial.

Demjanjuk's extradition was requested so that he could face charges he helped murder at least 29,000 Jews as a Nazi death camp guard, his son said Friday.

The retired autoworker, who lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, argued that given his frail health, the deportation would have amounted to torture.

All of Demjanjuk's submissions should be denied, as they are based on speculation, erroneous assumptions, and frivolous claims that legitimate German legal proceedings against him are designed to cause him suffering and would subject him to torture," the Office of Special Investigations said in a statement on Friday. "He cannot meet his burden of proving that it is more likely than not that he would face torture if removed to Germany and his motions and application therefore must fail.‬"

A German justice official also denied on Saturday that the Demjanjuk's deportation would amount to torture.

"That is cynical and absolutely intolerable," Bavarian Secretary of Justice Beate Merk said.

Merk said she now does not know how the case will proceed.

"For now, this is a matter for the Americans," she said.

Despite the ruling, after many fits and starts, it appears the saga of Demjanjuk's stay in the United States is coming to its end. After extraditing him to Israel in 1986 and then being compelled to reabsorb him in 1993, the U.S. seems eager to rid itself of the man believed to be "Ivan the Terrible."

Demjanjuk immigrated to the U.S. in 1952 and became a naturalized citizen in 1958. The authorities' efforts to strip him of citizenship were nightmarish. He was originally stripped of citizenship in 1981, and his claim that he was a mere farmer from Poland did not aid his argument.

Yet, after his acquittal in an Israeli court and his subsequent return to the U.S., a Federal Court restored his citizenship. One year later, the Justice Department sought once again to deny him citizenship.

The U.S. would like to expel him to Germany, Poland, or Ukraine, yet Demjanjuk has kept filing appeals, thus delaying the process. In 2008, the Supreme Court turned down his last appeal.