Kyiv Post | 22Feb2011 | Associated Press

Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk threatens hunger strike

MUNICH (AP) -- John Demjanjuk told a Munich state court Tuesday [22Feb2011] he would go on hunger strike unless judges pursue more evidence which he claims could exonerate him of charges he served as a Nazi death camp guard.

A verdict in Demjanjuk's trial is expected as early as March. The Ukrainian-born former Ohio autoworker accused the panel of judges who have heard the case over the last 15 months of turning "a blind eye to justice" by repeatedly rejecting defense motions for more documents.

"Germany, the nation which murdered with merciless cruelty millions of innocent people, attempts to extinguish my dignity, my soul, my spirit, and indeed my life with a political show trial, seeking to blame me, a Ukrainian peasant, for the crimes committed by Germans in World War II," he said in a statement read to the court by his attorney, Ulrich Busch.

The judges showed little reaction after the statement was read in full, only asking Demjanjuk whether the words were his own, to which he nodded.

Demjanjuk, 90, is accused of 28,060 counts of accessory to murder for allegedly having been a guard at the Sobibor death camp in occupied Poland.

The prosecution argues that after Demjanjuk, a Soviet Red Army soldier, was captured by the Germans in 1942, he agreed to serve under the SS as a guard.

Demjanjuk denies ever serving as a guard. He says he spent most of the rest of the war after being captured in Nazi camps for prisoners of war before joining the so-called Vlasov Army of anti-communist Soviet POWs and others. That army was formed to fight with the Germans against the encroaching Soviets in the final months of the war.

Demjanjuk entered court Tuesday holding a sign reading "1627" -- the number of a 1,400-page Soviet investigative file on his alleged wartime activities -- that the defense has asked the court to try and obtain from Moscow several times.

Busch has argued that the file could contain documents which could prove that a Sobibor identity card attributed to Demjanjuk actually was that of another guard.

The court has rejected the request for the files, saying it is simply a defense "hypothesis" that there could be details on the identity card there.

According to a letter from Ukrainian authorities to the American Embassy in Kiev from 2001, obtained by The Associated Press, the investigation of Demjanjuk documented in file "1627" was carried out in 1979-1980 and all materials were sent to what was at that time the Soviet Prosecutor General's office in Moscow.

But the Russian Prosecutor General's Office told the AP earlier this month that it does not have the files and does not know where they are.

Demjanjuk said in his statement that if the court did not attempt to find the file, and others, he would "within two weeks begin a hunger strike."

Following Demjanjuk's statement, Busch read through a raft of new motions for more evidence and on scores of other requests.

After more than 100 such requests, prosecutor Hans-Joachim Lutz asked the judges to order Busch to present any further motions in written form, accusing him of trying to bring the trial to a standstill.

"This is clearly to delay the proceedings," the prosecutor said.

The court indicated, however, that it would allow the motions to proceed when the trial resumes Wednesday [23Feb2011].

Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow and David Rising in Berlin contributed to this story.

Kyiv Post | 22Feb2011 | Reuters

Demjanjuk threatens hunger strike as trial nears end

John Demjanjuk, accused of helping to kill 27,900 Jews in the Holocaust, will go on a hunger strike unless the court allows him to present evidence that could exonerate him, his lawyer said on Feb. 22, 2011.

Ulrich Busch, who is defending the 90-year-old in a Munich court against charges of assisting in killings at the Sobibor Nazi death camp in Poland, said Demjanjuk would begin the hunger strike within the next two weeks.

Busch said there are documents in a KGB file from Russia and Ukraine that could prove Demjanjuk is innocent. He read a statement for Demjanjuk in which he accused Judge Ralph Alt of conducting a political "show trial".

"This is a mockery of justice," Busch said on Demjanjuk's behalf.

Prosecutors are expected to conclude their case on Tuesday and final arguments could also begin unless Demjanjuk's health deteriorates, a Munich court spokesman said. A verdict could be reached in March.

The 15-month trial has been delayed periodically as Demjanjuk has refused at times to attend sessions on grounds of ill-health even though he was declared fit by doctors.

German state prosecutors accuse Demjanjuk, who was top of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of most wanted war criminals, of assisting in killings at Sobibor, where they say at least 250,000 Jews were killed. He denies having worked there.

His family says he is too frail for trial, which he began in November 2009 in a wheelchair and attends lying down. Demjanjuk was born in Ukraine and fought in the Red Army before the Nazis captured him and recruited him as a camp guard during World War Two. He emigrated to the United States in 1951 and became a naturalised citizen in 1958.