Demjanjuk: 29,000 murder charges

Accompanied by American federal agents, overseeing his deportation from the United States, 89-year-old John Demjanjuk arrived in Munich today to face 29,000 counts of murder as a guard in the Sobibor death camp during the Second World War.

Demjanjuk, a retired car worker, had repeatedly tried to block his deportation from Cleveland, Ohio, but just four days after the US Supreme Court refused to consider his latest request, he was in a wheelchair, being loaded onto the German-bound jet.

He is wanted on a Munich arrest warrant, but has denied the accusations, saying he was held by the Germans as a Soviet prisoner of war and was never a camp guard. Demjanjuk's family fought deportation, arguing he is in poor health and might not survive the trans-Atlantic journey.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, a founder of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre, said Demjanjuk deserved to be punished in what would probably be the last trial of someone accused of Nazi war crimes.

"His work at the Sobibor death camp was to push men, women and children into the gas chamber," Hier said in a statement. "He had no mercy, no pity and no remorse for the families whose lives he was destroying."

The case dates back to 1977 when the US Justice Department moved to revoke Demjanjuk's American. citizenship, alleging he hid his past as a Nazi death camp guard.

Demjanjuk had been tried in Israel after accusations surfaced that he was the notorious Ivan the Terrible at the Treblinka death camp in Poland . He was found guilty in 1988 of war crimes and crimes against humanity, a conviction overturned by the Israeli Supreme Court.

A US judge revoked his citizenship in 2002 based on Justice Department evidence showing that he concealed his service at Sobibor and other Nazi-run death and forced-labour camps.

Last updated: 10:55am, May 12 2009