Kyiv Post | 12May2011 | Associated Press

Demjanjuk convicted over Nazi camp deaths (updated)

Retired U.S. autoworker John Demjanjuk was convicted of thousands of counts of acting as an accessory to murder at a Nazi death camp and sentenced on Thursday to five years in prison before judges ordered him released pending an appeal.

Demjanjuk was found guilty of 28,060 counts of being an accessory to murder, one for each person who died during the time he was ruled to have been a guard at the Sobibor camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Presiding Judge Ralph Alt said the 91-year-old was a piece of the Nazis' "machinery of destruction."

"The court is convinced that the defendant ... served as a guard at Sobibor from 27 March 1943 to mid September 1943," Alt said, closing a trial that has lasted nearly 18 months.

Demjanjuk sat in a wheelchair in front of the judges as they announced their verdict, but showed no reaction.

He has denied the charges, but declined the opportunity to make a final statement to the court.

Demjanjuk's son, John Demjanjuk Jr., said the defense would appeal.

He asserted that "the Germans have built a house of cards and it will not stand for long."

Alt later ordered that Demjanjuk be freed pending appeal. That is not unusual in Germany and Alt said Demjanjuk, who is stateless and was deported from the U.S. two years ago, did not pose a flight risk.

Defense attorney Guenther Maull said it wasn't yet clear where Demjanjuk would go once he is freed, but he was likely to be hosted by the Ukrainian community in Munich.

The court noted that Demjanjuk, who suffers from a variety of ailments, needs daily medical attention.

Charges of accessory to murder carry a maximum term of 15 years in Germany, which does not allow consecutive sentences for multiple counts of the same crime.

There was no evidence that Demjanjuk committed a specific crime.

The prosecution was based on the theory that if Demjanjuk was at the camp, he was a participant in the killing -- the first time such a legal argument has been made in German courts.

Thomas Walther, who led the investigation that prompted Germany to prosecute Demjanjuk, said before the verdict that other low-ranking Nazi helpers could now face prosecution.

"It could be very soon that more are brought to the table," he said. "This case is a door-opener."

Selected COMMENTS:

Lubomyr Prytulak, Guest | 3 days ago at 21:28

But all of the Globe and Mail comments are sifted to reflect only a narrow range of views. My comment that you see immediately below was rejected.

The World Jewish Congress does not hesitate to publish XOXOL.ORG information exculpatory of John Demjanjuk

but the Globe and Mail does!

Lubomyr Prytulak, Guest | May 12 at 23:10

The Trawniki ID Card linking John Demjanjuk with Sobibor is a KGB forgery:


The Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka, for whose crimes John Demjanjuk came close to being hanged in Jerusalem, is imaginary:


As it is today widely accepted that John Demjanjuk never set foot in Treblinka, and as in any case there was no Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka, all Jerusalem witnesses who testified seeing John Demjanjuk committing the crimes of Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka lied. Therefore, it is reasonable to suppose that some or all of the "co-prosecutors" testifying against John Demjanjuk in Munich may have lied as well, and therefore should have been subjected to cross-examination, but they were not.

The Munich trial of John Demanjuk was a show trial before a kangaroo court just like the Jerusalem trial was.