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Cleveland Plain Dealer | 19Oct2011 | John Caniglia

John Demjanjuk legal fight over Nazi identification card rages on

The legal fight over the Nazi identification card linked to John Demjanjuk rages on, as federal prosecutors claimed a controversial FBI memo about the card was based on misinformed impressions and conjecture and not evidence.

Prosecutors filed documents late Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Cleveland about the card, the lack of investigation by the FBI that went into examining it and how an attorney for Demjanjuk may have known about the FBI's concerns in 1985.

The 91-year-old former Seven Hills man was convicted in May in Germany of being an accessory in the deaths of more than 28,000 people for his role as a guard at a Nazi death camp. The guard pass has been a key document that authorities say places Demjanjuk in Nazi service.

Attorneys for Demjanjuk want him returned to the United States because they say prosecutors withheld documents that could have helped his defense. They want U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster to order hearings on why prosecutors' failed to turn over documents.

They cited a Cleveland FBI agent's memo in 1985 that said the Nazi card could be a type of document that "was quite likely fabricated by the KGB." They stressed the report was not turned over to the defense, and its impact in Demjanjuk's case "is incalculable."

But prosecutors said in court documents Tuesday that they didn't know about the Cleveland FBI's monitoring of Demjanjuk, as the information was never turned over to them. They included another FBI agent's note that said "the Cleveland case on Demjanjuk was not for [federal prosecutors'] consumption since complaints received at the Cleveland office indicated KGB handling of evidence in the Demjanjuk trial and other wrongdoing" that could develop into a counterintelligence investigation.

Prosecutors also filed a report that contained hundreds of pages of documents and interview notes that previously had been sealed. The prosecutors' filings included an affidavit of former Cleveland FBI agent Thomas Martin, who worked counterintelligence and wrote the report Demjanjuk's defense team has highlighted. He said he never saw the original identification card and never did any investigation on his suspicions.

In 1984, the Cleveland FBI interviewed Rudolf Reiss, who served as an administrator at the Trawniki guard camp, where U.S. judges have ruled that Demjanjuk received his training. Reiss pointed out inaccuracies on the card, including its seal. "Reiss indicated that the Trawniki card was not legitimate," the FBI report said. Prosecutors say his criticism has been proven false.

Prosecutors have stressed that Reiss went to the FBI with Jerome Brentar, a Cleveland travel agent who sought to prove Demjanjuk's innocence by suggesting the likelihood of Soviets forging Nazi documents. Prosecutors have said Brentar, who died in 2006, was a Holocaust denier.

The card has been tested several times in Demjanjuk's three-decades-long legal fight and U.S. judges found it to be authentic. He was first accused of being a Nazi guard in 1977, when authorities identified him as being a sadistic guard at the Treblinka death camp. He was extradited to Israel, convicted, sentenced to death and released after another man was identified as being the guard.

Dennis Terez, the federal public defender in Cleveland who is representing Demjanjuk, declined to comment.


boneybenny:  October 19, 2011 at 9:19PM
The Demjanjuk case sets a terrible precedent.

Years from now, former American soldiers could be prosecuted for being at GITMO or Abu Ghraib. Not that they were involved with torture, but just for being assigned to these prison camps.

Different from the Demjanjuk case, there are detailed records of every soldier who served at GITMO and Abu Ghraib. No one can be sure Demjanjuk was at the nazi death camp, as the "evidence" wasn't convincing in the American court he was tried in. But we know with 100% certainty who was at GITMO and Abu Ghraib.

The Demjanjuk case "opens the door" for future extraditions of Americans who served at GITMO and Abu Ghraib. In our lifetimes, we could see former American soldiers on trial for following orders.

shalom2u:  October 19, 2011 at 10:09PM
Let's remember that these are government prosecutors. They must be held to a high standard as they have huge resources and they represent the USA. Yet, court records show they committed fraud on the courts in the Demjanjuk case not once but twice. Now the FPD believes they did it again. They made similar excuses the last time around saying they didn't know about the evidence that proved Demjanjuk was not Ivan the Terrible. Now they say they didn't know about the FBI report. But DUH, the FBI is part of the Justice Department, right?? The right doesn't know what the left is doing is no excuse in grade school much less in a federal prosecution.

Solyndra Inc:  October 19, 2011 at 10:33PM
It's quite ironic that Nazi show trial tactics have been used against a man who was accused, with fabricated proof, of being a Nazi. First he's Ivan the Terrible, then cleared. Next, he's Ivan of Sobibor. Next, he will be Jack the Ripper, the Torso killer, or the Zodiac killer. I'm generally supportive of Jews and am a huge backer of Israel, but this witch hunt is out of control. Just like Jim Trafficant, he embarrassed the heck out of a whole lot of US attorneys, who are not used to losing; and the US Justice Dept has been gunning for him ever since.

vet420:  October 20, 2011 at 12:28AM
Part of his defense when he was accused of being Ivan the Terrible was that at the time prosecuters said he was at Treblinka, he was actually working at Sobibor. [W.Z. Disinformation! John Demjanjuk has consistently claimed that he was never in Sobibor.] Now he is trying to claim that this ID is forged. Why doesn't he try for once in his life to own his actions. His entire adult life has been nothing but one lie after another. Be a man for once in your pathetic life, John Demjanuk. I hope that when he finally drops dead, the U.S. government does not allow his family to bring his remains back here for burial. He does not deserve the honor.

kaitmaz:  October 20, 2011 at 6:43AM
You wrote: "Now he is trying to claim that this ID is forged".

The correct version:
"In October 1983, Israel issued an extradition request for Demjanjuk to stand trial on Israeli soil under the Nazis and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law of 1950.
Demjanjuk appealed his deportation with the case heard on July 8, 1985.
During the appeal, the authenticity of the identity card was questioned when it was revealed that the card's number, 1393, had been issued in June/July 1942 with the seal of SS Commissioner, Odilo Globocnik, who had in fact been dismissed from this post in March 1942 at which time his seal was destroyed. The three identity cards supplied by the KGB that the experts had used to compare their paper and ink with Demjanjuk's card to prove its authenticity were also disputed. Among other issues such as graphic inconsistencies, the cards, all dated 1942, carried Waffen SS stamps despite them not taking control of the Trawniki until 1943. Two bore the signature of Corporal Teufel when he was at that time a Sergeant while the other card, which had been issued earlier in the year when Teufel was still a Corporal, had his rank listed as Sergeant. The cards were also signed by Captain Hermann Hoefle, who was actually a Major. The court ruled on this claim: the record before us lends no support to this very serious charge, and we reject it. Witnesses fully qualified to testify on the subject stated their opinions that the Trawniki documents were authentic. Even if this documentary evidence had been rejected, the eyewitness evidence alone was found sufficient. Since the district court did not rely on the "Trawniki card", its validity is not before the court. The appeal was dismissed on 31 October.

shalom2u:  October 20, 2011 at 8:20AM
Vet420, anyone has a right to express opinions but you should become knowledgeable about a topic before you honor the German and US DOJ perpetrators of injustice and at the same time judge who deserves honor after death.


RESULTS of "Criminal" proceedings in Demjanjuk case:
- US Extradition to Israel proceeding permitting Demjanjuk to be forced to Israel was overturned by US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals due to fraud on the court perpetrated by US DOJ. No sanctions against US prosecutors but new rules set in place throughout DOJ on how to deal with evidence and discover obligations. So Demjanjuk should have never been sent to Israel and never spent 7 yrs in prison and 6 yrs in a death cell.
- Israeli indictment of Sobibor and Treblinka result in conviction and death sentence later overturned on appeal by Israeli Supreme court and any new case based upon Sobibor alone rejected by Israeli Attorney General as unsubstantiated based upon same body of evidence used in Germany. Decision upheld by Israeli Supreme Court.
- Country of Poland conducts criminal investigation since that is where Sobibor was located and concludes no evidence Demjanjuk committed a crime.
- Germany conducts political show trial with family of Sobibor victims outnumbering media reps and does not permit ID card to be fully analyzed, specifically they did not analyze the alleged "Demjanjuk" signature on the card. (nor did US "experts"). Huge cache of KGB derived evidence related to subject still held in Russia (File 1627) and Germany refused to even ask for it. DECISION ON APPEAL

RESULTS of "Civil" (US Immigration) proceedings in Demjanjuk case:

- Original Denaturalization case (1981) overturned by US Federal District Court due to DOJ Fraud (unrelated to Treblinka Ivan the Terrible Fraud previously found by 6th Circuit). Demjanjuk's citizenship restored. Decision was made "without prejudice" allowing DOJ to go after Demjanjuk again.
- Second Denat case results in Demjanjuk losing citizenship again. (this and the case mentioned above now under review by Federal District court due to evidence being withheld by DOJ AGAIN.)
- Second Denat case results in Demjanjuk being found deportable again. Rather than request extradition to Germany like in the Israeli case (proper legal route but difficult for DOJ and Germany), Germany accepts him as a deportee as if he were being sent home.

If you find this to be an example of justice being served, that is your opinion. I believe the history of this case shows he has been a victim of the Germans and the DOJ which has been a black eye on our judicial system while for over 30 yrs, Demjanjuk was nothing but an excellent citizen, employee (Ford Motor), tax payer, friend, neighbor, and family man. US prosecutors should be held to a higher standard than a former Red Army soldier with a 4th grade education who was nearly killed fighting the Nazis, became a German POW and against whom there is no credible evidence to prove he ever harmed a single person.

The fact that there are highly respected attorneys and distinguished law professors that have been representing Demjanjuk pro bono and a Federal Public Defender (not to mention D's family) that continue to fight for justice in the Demjanjuk case should invoke some common sense notions of an injustice in need of correction. If Demjanjuk were truly guilty of nazi crimes, nobody would care and he would have swung by the Israeli gallows long ago.

It is the prosecutors in the Demjanjuk case who deserve no honor. My opinion.

FEDUP:  October 20, 2011 at 8:25AM
What they did to Demjanjuk is unforgiveable. They have to be held accountable for their action. How many men are in prison now for mishandling of information by the prosecutors. Most of the time when it is a high profile case they would do anything to make a name for themselves, including leaving out important imformation that would prove the person innocent. We don't know the whole truth. It is funny because I have a relative that was accused of being one of the biggest drugs dealers in the country, because he lived in a very white high class neighborhood and had one of the most expensive car in the neighbor. Due to the claim of a white neighbor who feared for her and her family life. Instead of them doing a back ground check they busted in his house where his wife and kids where sleeping while he was at work at a hospital at head physician. And not only that he did 20 yrs in the military. And his wife was a CEO of her own company. Now the fact is the true or false.
We have the tendency to believe allegations that are produce by the white sectors.

bopdoowop:  October 20, 2011 at 9:53AM
No, don't bring him back. Let him die right where he is. We know he's guilty. He knows he's guilty. Funny how healthy he looks now that his trial is all over with. Leave him where he is. He doesn't deserve to return to the comfort and security of a home that was built on a charade and fraud anyway.

Lonesome Rodes:  October 20, 2011 at 10:22AM
Wow! "We know he's guilty. He knows he's guilty". Nice to know there are people like you who can read minds, sort through all the evidence and come up with the truth. Would it surprise you to know that police, prosecutors manufacture, distort evidence? It is proven that it happens. What happened to "guilty till proven innocent". What about the men whose lives were ruined based on faulty evidence? Their innocence proven years later through DNA testing?
There are many in government who swear to uphold the Constitution of the US or of a particular state who basically lie. We must base what we do on principles not on ego, pride, personal agendas.