Cleveland Plain Dealer | 23Apr2009 | John Caniglia
Video of John Demjanjuk shows him
walking without assistance
Videos of John Demjanjuk walking briskly indicate he is healthier than
he has claimed and is fit to be deported to Germany for helping the
Nazis kill Jews, federal prosecutors said late Thursday [23Apr2009].
Prosecutors released tapes that show the 89-year-old Demjanjuk getting
in and out of a car without help April 6, 2009 -- a contrast,
authorities say, to the man who groaned in apparent pain as agents
carried him from his home April 14, 2009 in a wheelchair.
would the Office of Special Investigations -- the "rogue element"
within the U.S. Department of Justice -- spend U.S. taxpayers dollars
to have John Demjanjuk under constant surveillance? A real spy thriller
complete with hidden cameras!]
The agents were prepared to place him on a plane to Munich that night,
but the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati granted a
last-minute reprieve. He remains at home while the court decides
whether he should be deported.
The videos add to the white-hot debate over whether Demjanjuk, who
suffers chronic kidney disease and anemia, should be deported for his
wartime past or stay with his family in Seven Hills.
Also Thursday, the family filed a video with the court. It was taken by
a WKYC Channel 3 cameraman inside their home April 14, 2009 as agents
helped carry out Demjanjuk. A woman cried in the background as she
watched him being wheeled to the door.
"This is not right," she said. "This is not right. You don't do this to
animals. You don't do this to humans."
His family said sending him to Germany would amount to torture. The
WKYC video shows him wailing in pain as he is moved from his bed.
The government's [W.Z. Caniglia presumably means the OSI] videos, however, "show [Demjanjuk] walking briskly,
smiling and animatedly conversing and otherwise engaging in conduct
that belies his health claims [and] offer further support for the
conclusion that he is fit to fly," prosecutors said in documents.
Prosecutors also filed affidavits of immigration agents who helped
Demjanjuk from his home and stayed with him much of the day on April
14, 2009. The agents said Demjanjuk appeared stiff when they tried to
move him at his home. He continued to groan in the van when it struck
Later in the day, he walked and appeared to become more mobile at the
federal building in downtown Cleveland, where he was held, the agents
said. After the appellate court granted the reprieve hours later,
Demjanjuk's family prepared to take him home.
"I helped him climb into the pickup truck, a Ford F-150, with a rather
high seat," immigration agent Aaron Roby wrote in an affidavit. "He had
no more difficulty than I would expect from someone his age getting
into the truck, and he scooted over once he climbed in."
Demjanjuk's son, John Jr., called the videos "an act of desperation.
Absolutely. If that's the best they can do and that's their best shot,
then we'll deal with it."
He said his father goes weekly to the doctor to get a shot that treats
a blood disorder to keep him alive. That's where agents videotaped him.
He said the spinal pain can be horrific one day and better the next.
"Just because he can walk and talk has absolutely no bearing on whether
he can fly at 30,000 feet," Demjanjuk Jr. said.
Prosecutors said Demjanjuk's appeals are nothing but delay tactics to
prevent him from being deported.
But Demjanjuk's attorney said in filings Thursday that he is simply
seeking to prevent a mistake, similar to what occurred in 1985, when
the 6th Circuit permitted Demjanjuk to be extradited to Israel.
He was charged, convicted and sentenced to death, only to have the
Israeli Supreme Court throw out the conviction.
"This time, perhaps, judicial inquiry before the deed is done can
prevent an injustice," John Broadley wrote.
After Demjanjuk returned from Israel, a federal judge found that he had
worked as a guard at three camps, including Sobibor, where German
officials say he helped in the deaths of thousands of Jews.
In 2005, he was ordered deported, though no country would take him
until Germany agreed to earlier this year. He has claimed that he
served in German POW camps and never worked for the Nazis as a guard.