Haaretz | Dec. 18, 2004 | Reuters

U.S. seeks to deport accused Nazi Demjanjuk

Last Update: 18/12/2004 13:26
By Reuters

The U.S. government said on Friday [Dec. 17, 2004] it had asked an immigration judge to deport John Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian immigrant and retired auto-worker who is accused of working as a guard at several Nazi camps.

Demjanjuk, 84, who was once thought to be the sadistic Nazi death camp guard "Ivan the Terrible" during World War II, has been found guilty of lying to gain entry to the United States.

In April, a federal appeals court affirmed a lower court decision revoking Demjanjuk's U.S. citizenship on multiple grounds, including his "willing" service in a unit "dedicated to exploiting and exterminating" Jewish civilians in Nazi-occupied Poland.

A charging document filed on Friday by the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security seeks Demjanjuk's deportation for his participation in Nazi-sponsored persecution while serving as an armed SS guard at the Sobibor, Majdanek, and Flossenburg camps; and because he lied about his wartime job and residences when he applied for a U.S. immigration visa in 1952.

"John Demjanjuk's involvement in the infamous process through which thousands of innocent men, women, and children were gassed to death at Sobibor clearly deprives him of any legal or moral right to live in this country," Assistant Attorney General Christopher Wray said.

About 250,000 Polish Jews were killed at Sobibor.

"To allow him to remain in the United States would be an insult of the first order to survivors of the Holocaust, to family members of those who perished and to veterans of the U.S. forces whose heroism helped bring an end to the Nazi reign of terror," Wray said in a statement.

It was not clear where Demjanjuk might be sent.

The United States accused Demjanjuk in 1977 of being the Nazi guard "Ivan the Terrible" at the Treblinka death camp. Extradited to Israel, he was tried and sentenced to death.

But subsequent evidence from the former Soviet Union undermined eyewitness testimony from death camp survivors, and Israel's supreme court freed him in 1993.

Demjanjuk returned to the United States and regained the citizenship that had been revoked in 1981, though prosecutors still maintained he had a role in the Nazi killing machine.

In a 2002 trial to revoke his citizenship, the government based its case on carefully preserved Nazi documents, including an identity card issued to an "Iwan Demjanjuk" at the SS-run Trawniki training camp and a sworn statement by a now-dead Ukrainian camp guard who remembered Demjanjuk.

He has denied he was ever a death camp guard, saying he was in the Soviet Army but spent much of the World War Two as a German prisoner.