Kyiv Post | 10May2011 | Associated Press
Demjanjuk attorney disputes
trial's legitimacy (updated)
MUNICH (AP) -- John Demjanjuk's attorney argued Tuesday that the German
trial against his client on 28,060 counts of accessory to murder at a
Nazi death camp lacks a legal basis because the Sobibor camp lies in
Ulrich Busch said on his fourth day of closing arguments that the
91-year-old defendant, accused of being a guard at the death camp,
should therefore not be tried in Germany. Polish authorities have
already dropped an investigation of Demjanjuk for lack of evidence, he
"I call for the immediate release of my client who has been detained
for two years on an illegal and unconstitutional basis," Busch told the
Munich state court.
The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk was a young Soviet army soldier when he
was captured in Crimea in 1942 by the Nazis during World War II.
Prosecutors say after that he agreed to serve as a guard and trained at
the SS Trawniki camp in Poland before being sent to Sobibor.
But Demjanjuk says he was held prisoner for most of the rest of the war
and never served as a guard in any camp.
His attorney asked the court not to consider testimony gathered by the
Soviet Union's investigators because it is likely to be biased.
In addition, Busch claimed that documents and witness accounts from
Trawniki on Demjanjuk differed so widely that there must have been
about six different Demjanjuks -- opening up the possibility that he
could be a victim of mistaken identity.
But a lawyer for families of Sobibor victims who have joined the trial
as co-plaintiffs, as permitted under German law, said there was no
doubt on Demjanjuk's identity.
"Of course there are always contradictions in testimonies, but
documents don't lie," Martin Mendelsohn said outside the court room.
However, Demjanjuk's son, John Demjanjuk Jr., noted that prosecutors in
the U.S. had been reprimanded for withholding evidence in the past in
the case and said an Associated Press report from last month
demonstrated that the defense still does not have all the files.
The report brought to light a 1985 FBI file that indicated the agency
believed the Trawniki ID card alleged to have belonged to Demjanjuk was
a Soviet-made fake.
"Documents can be reliable or unreliable, but they cannot be considered
if concealed by prosecutors who champion a cause rather than justice,"
Demjanjuk Jr. said in an email.
The defense will continue its closing arguments Wednesday, and a
verdict may come as early as Thursday.
Demjanjuk's trial opened in November 2009, months after the retired
Ohio autoworker was deported from the United States.