Kyiv Post | 13May2011 | Reuters
Lawyer: Convicted Nazi
guard Demjanjuk needs a home
BERLIN, May 13, 2011 (Reuters) -- Authorities in Germany are searching
place for 91-year-old convicted Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk to
live while he is free on appeal, one of his lawyers said on Friday.
Demjanjuk was convicted on Thursday in a Munich court of helping to
kill more than 28,000 people at the Sobibor camp in Poland in the
Holocaust during World War Two.
Sentenced to five years in prison, he was immediately set free because
of his age and left custody on Friday, though his immediate destination
was not known.
"They're searching for a place for him to stay," defence lawyer
Guenther Maull told Reuters. "I can't say whether they'll immediately
find a permanent residence or something temporary."
Ukraine-born Demjanjuk has been in German jail since he was extradited
from the United States two years ago and his lawyers had sought his
release on age and health grounds.
He attended the 1-1/2 year trial in a wheelchair and sometimes lying
Maull said the appeal will take at least a year to go through required
legal procedures, and maybe longer.
In the meantime, Demjanjuk, who is stateless after being stripped of
his U.S. citizenship, will need to live in a nursing home in Germany,
"The government will have to support him," he said. "It's very clear he
needs social assistance and he needs to be housed where he can receive
Demjanjuk, who was once atop the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of most
wanted Nazi war criminals, said he was drafted into the Soviet army in
1941 and then taken prisoner by the Germans.
Prosecutors convinced the court that Demjanjuk was trained by the Nazis
as a camp guard and then served at the Sobibor extermination camp from
March-September 1943, while at least 28,000 people, mostly Jews, were
Estimates put the total dead at Sobibor at some 250,000.
The Wiesenthal Center's chief Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff expressed
dismay at the court's decision to free Demjanjuk.
"My feeling is that that is not an appropriate step, given the severity
of the crimes he was just convicted of," Zuroff said. "He wasn't
brought to court for failing to help an old lady cross the street."
Demjanjuk immigrated to the United States in the early 1950s and became
a naturalised citizen in 1958, working as an engine mechanic in Ohio.