German war crimes trial for Demjanjuk

By Marcus Dysch, November 13, 2008

Former Nazi death-camp guard John Demjanjuk may face a war crimes trial in Germany after officials said new evidence would be used to charge him.

On Tuesday, state prosecutors announced plans to extradite the 88-year-old from the United States and prove he was responsible for the deaths of 29,000 Jews at the Sobibor camp in Poland.

Kurt Schrimm, Germany's chief war crimes investigator, said new files and witnesses provided "a great chance" to make Demjanjuk "face up to the responsibility for his crimes".

He said a dossier had been passed to the state prosecutor in Munich, where Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk briefly lived after the war. Dr Schrimm hopes to prove that the retired car worker served in Sobibor for six months in 1943. He said a trial could take place in Germany because 1,900 victims were thought to be German Jews.

"We have managed to obtain hundreds of documents and have found a number of witnesses who spoke out against Demjanjuk," he said. "For the first time we have even found lists of names of the people who he personally led into the gas chambers. We have no doubt that he is responsible for the death of over 29,000 Jews."

In May, Demjanjuk lost his fight against deportation from the USA.

He was sentenced to death by the Jerusalem District Court in 1988 for war crimes at the Treblinka death camp, but the verdict was overturned five years later by the Israeli Supreme Court due to a lack of evidence that he was "Ivan the Terrible" of Treblinka.

After his release, Demjanjuk returned home to Cleveland, Ohio, where he has lived since the 1950s.

He denies any involvement in war crimes and has maintained that the Nazis captured him as a prisoner of war while he was serving in the Soviet Army.

Last updated: 11:02am, November 13 2008