| 22Jul2010 | Annika Breidthardt, Jon Hemming

German judge forces Demjanjuk to appear in court

MUNICH Germany (Reuters) - John Demjanjuk, accused of helping to kill 27,900 Jews in the Holocaust, was forced to appear in court on Thursday after the 90-year-old had refused to attend the previous two sessions due to health reasons.

Judge Ralph Alt ordered Demjanjuk to appear on Thursday. He was rolled into the Munich courtroom on a hospital stretcher. "Yes, he was ordered to show today, and yes he showed," Alt told Reuters. He declined further comment.

Demjanjuk denies having worked at the Sobibor Nazi death camp in Poland. His family says he is too frail for trial, which he began in November in a wheelchair and attends lying down.

German media reported the trial could have collapsed if Demjanjuk did not appear in court for three consecutive weeks. He reportedly refused to allow himself to be transported from the Munich prison to the court.

Demjanjuk had been suffering from dehydration due to a heat wave. But he was pronounced fit again for trial before Thursday's forced appearance.

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

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.

(Reporting by Annika Breidthardt; Editing by Jon Hemming) | 22Jul2010 | Associated Press

Demjanjuk must appear in court

Munich - A German judge for the first time ordered John Demjanjuk to appear in court after the 90-year-old's health issues caused the cancellation of sessions in his trial over allegations that he was a guard at the Nazis' Sobibor death camp.

Two sessions last week were called off, the last of them when the defendant suffered dehydration in hot weather, but Demjanjuk appeared Thursday at the Munich state court.

Judge Ralph Alt told the court he had informed the former Ohio autoworker that he was being ordered to attend. He did not elaborate.

Demjanjuk, as he has for most of his trial, followed the hearing from a bed in the courtroom and showed no reaction to the proceedings.

Claims to be a POW

Demjanjuk, who was deported from the US to Germany in May 2009, is being tried on 28 060 counts of accessory to murder. He denies the charges.

The defence maintains Demjanjuk was a Soviet soldier captured by the Germans and spent most of the war in prison camps himself.

Demjanjuk suffers several medical problems and more than 10 sessions have been cancelled since last November.

Still, court spokesperson Margarete Noetzel said "the judge deemed him fit for trial". A court-appointed doctor had seen Demjanjuk before the hearing, she added.

German law only allows proceedings to be interrupted for up to four weeks, and prolonged absence by a defendant can result in a trial having to be restarted. But Noetzel said that a trial can be suspended for up to six weeks if a court-appointed doctor testifies that a defendant is ill.

Fit for trial

Demjanjuk's lawyer, Ulrich Busch, has repeatedly called for the trial to be halted, but German doctors have declared Demjanjuk fit to face trial as long as court sessions are limited to two 90-minute sessions per day.

A doctor and paramedics have been on hand at every court session to monitor Demjanjuk's condition.

The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk had his US citizenship revoked in 1981 after the Justice Department alleged he hid his past as the notorious Treblinka guard "Ivan the Terrible".

He was extradited to Israel, where he was found guilty and sentenced to death in 1988, only to have the conviction overturned five years later as a case of mistaken identity.

[W.Z. Of course, Associated Press refuses to inform the reader that the OSI perpetrated "fraud on the court" to obtain the denaturalization of Mr. Demjanjuk in 1981 and hisw extradition to Israel in 1986.],forced-attend-court-hearing.html   [Next session: 03Aug2010]

[W.Z. Trial to resume on 03Aug2010.]