Accused Nazi's Citizenship Revoked

Thu Feb 21,11:28 AM ET | PAUL SINGER, Associated Press Writer ap_on_re_us/demjanjuk_trial_6

CLEVELAND (AP) - John Demjanjuk's citizenship was revoked for the second time Thursday by a federal judge who agreed with government allegations that he was a Nazi death camp guard during World War II.

In a ruling eight months after Demjanjuk's trial, Judge Paul Matia said there was enough evidence without eyewitness corroboration to prove he guarded Nazi death and forced-labor camps. "The government had the burden of proving its contention to the court by clear, convincing, and unequivocal evidence," Matia said in a supplement to the ruling. "It did so." Demjanjuk, a Ukranian who went by the name Ivan in his homeland, has insisted he was a prisoner of war.

Ed Nishnic, Demjanjuk's son-in-law and family spokesman, said Demjanjuk would appeal.

"We tried our case and continue to believe the government is wrong," Nishnic said. "We most respectfully believe that Judge Matia has made serious factual and legal errors in his opinion."

The evidence included World War II documents such as work records and citizenship papers. Demjanjuk denied the papers were linked to him.

It was the Justice Department (news - web sites)'s second attempt to strip Demjanjuk of his U.S. citizenship. In the latest case, federal prosecutors argued that he fraudulently became a citizen by covering up his past as a guard at several Nazi concentration camps.

Demjanjuk, now 81, formerly lost his U.S. citizenship in 1981 on evidence that he was the sadistic Nazi guard "Ivan the Terrible" at Treblinka, in Poland, from 1942-43.

The 1981 case resulted in trial in Israel, where Demjanjuk was convicted and sentenced to death in 1988. However, his conviction there was overturned in 1993, mainly on new evidence that someone else was Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka.

The latest case did not include allegations of him being the Treblinka guard.

"It is true that judges have ruled against us in the past and public opinion has been against us in the past," Nishnic said. "Nevertheless, we have proven them wrong before and have been vindicated."

Nishnic said the ordeal has been difficult on his father-in-law. "It's been a very stressful 25 years for him. The wear of this relentless prosecution by three superpowers has taken a toll on his health."

Demjanjuk, a former Ford Motor Co. factory worker, lives in the Cleveland suburb Seven Hills, but he did not attend his recent trial.

He has spurned public attention since returning eight years ago from Israel.

A deposition Demjanuk gave to government lawyers in July 2000 was his last comment on his past. He denied aiding the Nazis.

He has maintained that he served in the Soviet Army, was captured in 1942 and remained in German prisoner of war camps.

His lawyers said Demjanuk may have been confused with a cousin from the same Ukrainian village who also was named Ivan Demjanjuk. In the deposition, Demjanjuk said his cousin joined the Soviet Army a few weeks before he did.

Keys to the government's case were documents kept by the Germans and archived by the Soviet Union that prosecutors said showed Demjanjuk was guard number 1393 and assigned to several Nazi camps after he was trained at Trawniki in Poland.

Demjanjuk held firm to his argument that he was a forced laborer as a prisoner of war.

In one of his more detailed deposition responses, Demjanjuk, who used a Ukrainian translator due to his poor English, said: "I was in captivity in the military prison, and then I ended up in Graz. From Graz I ended up in Heuberg. And that is - that is it. That's where it ends. And what is written here, how could it be me?"