Cleveland Plain Dealer | 15Apr2009 | John Caniglia
Court grants John Demjanjuk reprieve from deportation; plane was ready
to leave for Germany
2:40 p.m. Immigration agents remove Demjanjuk from his Seven Hills home
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Plain Dealer Reporter
Seven Hills -- A last-minute ruling late Tuesday afternoon [14Apr2009] spared John
Demjanjuk from being forced onto a plane to Germany and facing charges
that he herded Jews to the gas chambers in 1943.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati gave Demjanjuk a
reprieve about an hour after federal agents took him from his home in a
wheelchair and placed him in a medical van. A Gulfstream jet had been
ready to leave Burke Lakefront Airport at 8:25 p.m. [14Apr2009]
[W.Z. Did the OSI charter a special plane just to fly Mr. Demjanjuk to Germany?]
Demjanjuk, however, was with his family by about 7 p.m. [14Apr2009]
Demjanjuk's lawyers say he is too ill and frail to make the trip to
Germany, and it was on those grounds that the appeals court allowed him
to stay in the country.
Tuesday's about-face marked the latest legal twist in a 32-year ordeal
that stems from Demjanjuk's lies about his Nazi past when he entered
the United States in 1952, according to federal judges' rulings.
"If you tried to write a novel about this case, people would laugh you
off as crazy," said John Broadley, Demjanjuk's attorney.
"This is an outrageous abuse of justice," said Shari Kochman, the
regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. "I'm not a heartless
person. And the pictures of him being carried out of his home will tear
at your heartstrings.
"But he needs to face justice. There's no statute of limitations on the
kinds of crimes he is accused of committing."
In Munich, officials [names?] have accused him of being an accessory to the
murders of more than 29,000 Jews as a guard at the Sobibor death camp
in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1943. He was 23 at the time.
Using some evidence first introduced by federal prosecutors in
Cleveland in 2001, German authorities [names?] say Demjanjuk walked Jews from
rail cars to the gas chambers at the Sobibor death camp in 1943.
A federal immigration court [name of judge?] ordered Demjanjuk deported in 2005, but no
country was willing to accept him. Germany finally sought him earlier
On Tuesday morning, Broadley said he had heard federal agents planned
to take Demjanjuk in the afternoon. Shortly after 1 p.m., agents showed
up at the yellow-brick ranch on Meadowlane Road. About 90 minutes
later, agents took Demjanjuk out his front door in a wheelchair.
Demjanjuk, 89, moaned in apparent pain as agents carried him. With his
head tilted back, eyes closed and mouth open, Demjanjuk was placed in a
white medical van.
That left his 83-year-old wife, Vera, and family members in tears.
A neighbor looked out his window and saw Vera Demjanjuk, her hair
pulled back in a bun, holding a family member and crying.
"It's tragic," the neighbor said. "I feel for the family. How would
anyone feel if their 90-year-old father or grandfather was taken? And a
woman in her mid-80s may never see her husband again."
Caniglia implies that he was present during the removal of Mr.
Demjanjuk. Who told him that this removal was to take place?]
Others hailed the move.
"This sends a signal that people accused of serious crimes, such as
this one, won't escape prosecution," said Jonathan Drimmer, a former
U.S. Justice Department lawyer who handled Demjanjuk's case for years.
"If we want to prevent future genocides, then we must prosecute those
who commit the crimes until their last dying day."
[W.Z. When did Mr. Caniglia talk to Mr. Drimmer -- in person or by phone?]
On Tuesday morning, John Demjanjuk Jr. sped to Cincinnati to file a
last-ditch appeal to stop the deportation in the 6th U.S. Circuit
It was the latest in a series of appeals designed to keep Demjanjuk
here. His lawyers said Demjanjuk was too weak and frail to care for
himself, let alone defend himself. They said he suffers from chronic
kidney disease and blood disorders. They fear he will never go to trial
and instead live his last days in a German hospital. They contend
sending him overseas in his condition amounts to torture.
About 4 p.m., the appellate court granted the reprieve in an attempt to
clarify various torture issues before Demjanjuk left the country.
Federal prosecutors [names?] said the judges [names?] lacked the jurisdiction to handle
The ruling came days after another appellate body, the U.S. Board of
Immigration Appeals, quashed an earlier reprieve. [names of judges?]
David Leopold, a Cleveland immigration attorney, said he believes that
federal prosecutors eventually will win out because the appellate court
cannot rule on the request for the reprieve as submitted, citing the
jurisdiction argument is just a red herring. On 17Nov1993 the Sixth
Circuit Court of Appeals under Judge Gilbert S. Merritt ruled that
the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) was guilty of
"prosecutorial misconduct that constituted fraud on the court" in
obtaining the denaturalization of John Demjanjuk in 1981 and also his
extradition to Israel in 1986. When "rogue elements" within the
Department of Justice and the U.S. Immigration Service bring the
administration of justice into disrepute, it is the responsibility of
the Sixth Circuit Court to examine the full details of the case and the
machinations of these people. In the same manner as Judge Merritt
initiated an inquiry into the John Demjanjuk case in 1992, it is time
that another prominent jurist initiate an inquiry to re-examine the
latestshenanigans of the OSI.]
It is unclear when a decision will be made.
Demjanjuk's family says he was serving in the Soviet army when the
Germans invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. The Germans captured him and
sent him to various prisoner-of-war camps before he lived in
U.S. judges have found that Demjanjuk was captured and sent to the
Trawniki training camp for guards in 1942. He then went to work at
various camps, including Sobibor.
presiding judge at the 1981 denaturalization trial and thereafter was
the notorious Frank Battisti. After his untimely death on 19Oct1994
from complications following an alleged tic bite, he was replaced by
Judge Robert Krupansky.
The presiding judge for the second 2001 denaturalization trial was Paul R. Matia.]
He immigrated to the United States in 1952.
In 1977, Demjanjuk was first accused of being "Ivan the Terrible," a
sadistic guard at the Treblinka death camp. He was extradited to
Israel, convicted and sentenced to death before the Israeli Supreme
Court overturned his conviction.
He came home, but a federal judge [Paul Matia] later ruled that Demjanjuk worked at
three other Nazi camps, including Sobibor.