Kyiv Post | 16May2011 | Reuters
German prosecutors appeal John Demjanjuk release
BERLIN, May 16, 2011 (Reuters) -- German prosecutors said on Monday
[16May2011] they were
appealing against a court decision to free convicted Nazi death camp
guard John Demjanjuk, while German investigators pursued at least two
A Munich court convicted Demjanjuk, 91, last week in a German court of
helping to kill more than 28,000 people at the Sobibor camp in
German-occupied Poland during World War Two.
The Munich prosecutor's office said it had filed an appeal against
Demjanjuk's five-year prison sentence and his immediate release from
jail pending his own appeal against the verdict. Prosecutors had
originally demanded a six-year sentence.
The Ukraine-born Demjanjuk was released on Friday after spending two
years in jail, including the 18 months of the trial which he attended
in a wheelchair, and sometimes lying down.
He is thought to have been moved to a state nursing home in the Munich
area, his lawyer Guenther Maull told Reuters.
"That's what I assume but even I don't know," Maull said.
Demjanjuk, who is stateless after being stripped of his U.S.
citizenship before his extradition to Germany in 2009, still poses a
flight risk, the prosecutor's office said.
German investigators of Nazi-era crimes, meanwhile, have received the
green light to pursue similar cases as a result of the Demjanjuk
"There are two current investigations that are quite similar to the
Demjanjuk case," Kurt Schrimm, Germany's chief Nazi war crimes
investigator, told Reuters from his office in Ludwigsburg in southwest
Germany. He declined to give details of the cases.
Schrimm and his staff are investigating a total of 28 war crimes cases
that could eventually be referred to prosecutors.
With no surviving witnesses to his crimes and heavy reliance on wartime
documents, prosecutors convinced the court that Demjanjuk's presence as
a guard at Sobibor was enough to demonstrate he was essential to the
"If Demjanjuk's conviction will be a precedent, then it's a wonderful
development," Simon Wiesenthal Center's chief Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff
told Reuters. "It still remains to be seen whether other people will be
prosecuted in the same way that Demjanjuk was prosecuted."
It may prove tricky to build other cases based on the Demjanjuk
What has emerged is more evidence of war crimes by German soldiers on
the battlefield rather than death camps or concentration camps, said
Andreas Brendel, a chief Nazi prosecutor in Dortmund.
At the moment his office -- one of three centralised Nazi crime
investigation centres in Germany -- has 18 investigations underway
which mostly focus on cases involving the German army rather than
Hitler's SS, which ran the death camps.
"Momentarily we don't have any concrete cases but that could change any
day," Brendel said. "What's always difficult is that as time goes by,
suspects are getting older, get sick or die."
Germany has no statute of limitations to murder or assisting murder,
but the youngest war criminals today are about 85 years old, Brendel
In November last year one of the world's most wanted Nazis, Samuel
Kunz, died aged 89 before he could stand trial for helping to kill
430,000 Jews in the Holocaust -- a case Brendel's office brought to
Demjanjuk was initially sentenced to death two decades ago in Israel
for being the notorious "Ivan the Terrible" camp guard at Treblinka in
The guilty verdict was overturned on appeal by Israel's supreme court
in 1993 after new evidence emerged pointing to a case of mistaken