Kyiv Post | 10Feb2010 | Associated Press
Demjanjuk's attorney questions
MUNICH (AP) — John Demjanjuk's defense lawyer on Wednesday questioned
the validity of evidence presented by a top German investigator,
including an identity card that allegedly shows his client was a guard
at the Nazi's Sobibor death camp.
Attorney Ulrich Busch told the Munich state court he has seen
"conflicting" examples of the ID card and asked investigator Thomas
Walther how the original came into the hands of the U.S. Department of
Justice to be passed on to Germany. Walther said he didn't know.
Demjanjuk, 89, is standing trial on 27,900 counts of being an accessory
to murder on allegations he was a Sobibor guard. He denies he ever was
at the camp, claiming he is the victim of mistaken identity.
Demjanjuk suffers from several medical problems but has been declared
fit to face trial as long as court sessions are limited to two
90-minute ones a day.
Busch said the ID card — one of the key pieces of evidence against his
client — is a fake.
"We question the ID card's authenticity and maintain it is a false
document made by the KGB," Busch said, referring to the former Soviet
Union's spy agency.
The original of the Trawniki ID card was first provided by the
Soviet Embassy in Washington D.C. for the 1981 Demjanjuk
denaturalization trial. It was delivered to Israeli investigators for
the 1987-88 Jerusalem trial by KGB-Mossad operative Armand Hammer and
not via official diplomatic channels. It is not known why the card was
never returned to the Soviet Union.]
The ID card was provided to Israeli investigators by the Soviet Union
in 1986. In testimony while on trial in Israel the following year,
Demjanjuk suggested the picture on the document may have been taken
from a photo identity card he was given when he joined a Communist
Party youth group while growing up in Ukraine. He also said at the time
that neither the height nor eye-color listed on the card match his own.
Busch suggested in court that several punctures in the photograph — but
apparently not through the card itself — indicate that it could have
been removed from another document and pasted onto the ID card.
He also accused Walther of being "one sided and partisan," saying he
had deliberately not included exculpatory evidence, including
videotaped testimonies of eight Sobibor survivors provided by the
Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.. Busch said the survivors all
testified they had not seen Demjanjuk at Sobibor.
Walther told the court he was given a summary of the video tapes and
was not aware of such statements.
Walther, now retired, led the probe that prompted Germany to prosecute
Demjanjuk for the special German prosecutors' office responsible for
investigating Nazi-era crimes.
Demjanjuk was deported in May from the United States to Munich, and has
been in custody since then. He could face up to 15 years in prison if
convicted for his alleged activities training as a guard in the SS camp
Trawniki, then serving in the Sobibor death camp in occupied Poland.
The prosecution argues that after Demjanjuk, a Soviet Red Army soldier,
was captured by the Germans in 1942 he volunteered to serve under the
SS as a guard.
Demjanjuk denies ever having served as a guard, saying that he spent
most of the rest of the war in Nazi POW camps before joining the
so-called Vlasov Army of anti-communist Soviet POWs and others. That
army was formed to fight with the Germans against the encroaching
Soviets in the final months of the war.
The trial in Germany comes after 30 years of legal action against
Demjanjuk on three continents.
Demjanjuk, a retired Ohio autoworker, had his U.S. citizenship revoked
in 1981 after the Justice Department alleged he hid his past as the
notorious Treblinka guard "Ivan the Terrible." He was extradited to
Israel, where he was found guilty and sentenced to death in 1988, but
the conviction was overturned five years later as a case of mistaken
The trial at the Munich state court, which started on Nov. 30, 2009,