Demjanjuk 'agreed with Nazis' says prosecutor

By Jessica Elgot, December 1, 2009
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The prosecutor in the trial of alleged war criminal John Demjanjuk says the defendant was a willing participant in the murder of 27,900 Jews.

The 89-year-old Ukrainian is charged of being an accessory to the murder of 27,900 Jews at the Sobibor camp.
He arrived at court on a hospital stretcher, lying on his side under a hospital blanket, his face covered with a navy baseball hat.

Demjanjuk did not speak throughout the proceedings; his lawyer, Ulrich Busch, said he was exercising his right to remain silent.

Prosecutor Hans-Joachim Lutz read out a 10-page charge sheet to the court, where he accused Demjanjuk of sharing the Nazis’ racist ideology.

He said: "As a guard, he took part in all the various parts of the extermination process after the deportation trains arrived.

"He willingly participated in the killing of the Jews because he wanted them dead for his own racist ideological reasons.”

Demjanjuk maintains he was a prisoner of war captured by the Nazis from the Red Army.

But the prosecution says that the Ukrainian had willingly become an SS guard at the Sobibor death camp.

Efraim Zuroff, director of the Jerusalem office of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, said he was angry that the second day of the trial had focused mainly on Demjanjuk’s failing health.

"We didn't hear anything about Sobibor, only about his ailments," he said.

In Israel in 1987, Demjanjuk was found guilty of crimes against humanity at both Sobibor and Treblinka, and was sentenced to death.

He spent seven years in prison but after launching an appeal on the grounds of mistaken identity, he was freed in 1993.

But more documentary material was uncovered about Demjanjuk’s time at Sobibor and he was deported to Germany earlier this year from his home in Ohio.

Last updated: 5:33pm, December 1 2009