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cleveland.com | 09Jun2011 | Associated Press

German court denies request to extradite John Demjanjuk to Spain

BERLIN -- A Munich court has denied Spain’s request to extradite John Demjanjuk to stand trial in Madrid on war crimes charges, questioning the evidence presented in the indictment against the former Seven Hills autoworker and Spain’s jurisdiction, a spokeswoman said today.
Demjanjuk was convicted in Germany May 12 of 28,060 counts of accessory to murder after a Munich court found he served as a guard at the Nazi’s Sobibor death camp in occupied Poland and sentenced to five years in prison.

Demjanjuk, 91, denies serving as a guard at any camp and is currently free pending his appeal.

During the trial, witness Alex Nagorny testified that he served as a guard with Demjanjuk in a different camp -- Flossenbuerg in southern Germany.

Nagorny told the court that he also shared an apartment with Demjanjuk in Landshut, Germany, after the war. But he could not identify Demjanjuk in the courtroom, telling judges the man on trial was “definitely not him.”

Still, Spanish National Court Judge Ismael Moreno indicted Demjanjuk in January on charges of accessory to genocide and crimes against humanity related to Flossenbuerg, saying that 155 Spaniards were held there and 60 died.

But in its ruling, which spokeswoman Margarete Noetzel said was made May 31, 2011, the Munich state court said Spanish authorities did not answer two requests for details of how those people died and when, and that without that information it could not determine whether Demjanjuk could have been involved.

It also questioned Spain’s jurisdiction, saying that the alleged crimes had been committed in Germany, and added it could not extradite someone for crimes for which the statute of limitations in Germany had expired.

In Demjanjuk’s German trial there was no evidence presented linking him to a specific murder at Sobibor, but in a precedent-setting decision the court ruled his presence alone at the death camp -- whose sole purpose was killing -- was enough to convict him of accessory to murder.

Flossenbuerg, however, was a concentration camp where many prisoners were used for forced labor. Though thousands were killed or died there amid deplorable conditions, the Munich court said concentration camp guards might not have been actively involved, so couldn’t be charged with accessory to murder.

“The service as a guard alone in a concentration camp, which was not a so-called death camp, is not enough,” the court ruled.

Demjanjuk’s son, John Demjanjuk Jr., said he had expected the ruling. 

“This was the end of another flash-in-the-media-pan attempt to influence public opinion against my father without any basis,” he said in an email to The Associated Press. “When the Germans asked for evidence, the Spaniards showed up empty handed.”