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Kyiv Post | 18Jul2011 | Associated Press
New investigation of
Demjanjuk in Germany (updated)
BERLIN (AP) — Bavarian prosecutors have opened a new investigation of
John Demjanjuk after a German attorney filed a complaint accusing him
of additional war crimes.
The 91-year-old retired Ohio autoworker was convicted in May of 28,060
counts of accessory to murder after a Munich court found that the
evidence showed he was a guard during the war the Nazis' Sobibor death
camp in occupied Poland.
The precedent-setting case was the first time someone was convicted in
Germany on evidence of being only a guard, without evidence of a
The court ruled that guarding a death camp meant, in legal terms, that
Demjanjuk was an accessory to the murder of the people who were killed
in the camp's gas chambers even if it could not be proven that he was
directly involved in the extermination process.
Demjanjuk was sentenced to five years in prison but was immediately
released pending appeal, which could take as long as two years, and is
now living in a nursing home south of Munich. Neither his attorney nor
his family could immediately be reached for comment on Monday's
announced by Bavaria.
The new complaint accuses Demjanjuk of 4,400 additional counts of
accessory to murder for the time when he allegedly guarded the
Flossenbuerg concentration camp in Bavaria.
Even though thousands died or were killed in Flossenbuerg, its entire
purpose was not extermination like Sobibor, Auschwitz or the other Nazi
But in the new complaint filed by Cornelius Nestler, who represented
the families of Sobibor victims at the Demjanjuk trial as
co-plaintiffs, the Cologne-based attorney argues there should be no
distinction made between concentration camps and death camps.
"Legally, it doesn't make a difference if the purpose is to murder
everybody there, or if the purpose is to murder a third of the people
there," he told The Associated Press. "It's still murder."
The complaint was also filed against Alex Nagorny, who testified during
the Demjanjuk trial that they were both guards at Flossenbuerg together
and then had lived together in Germany after the war.
When asked to identify Demjanjuk, however, Nagorny told the court the
man on trial bore "no resemblance" to the Demjanjuk that he knew.
Nestler, who filed his complaint jointly with Thomas Walther, a former
federal prosecutor who led the investigation that prompted Germany to
put Demjanjuk on trial, said the purpose is not to heap more jail time
on one person, but to open the door to other possible convictions.
It was initially filed in Munich but then turned over to the Weiden
prosecutors office because the former camp was located in its
Weiden prosecutor Gerd Schaeffer said his office has opened an
investigation and is reviewing evidence, but that he did not know how
long it might take to decide whether to file charges.
Munich prosecutors have already declined to file charges against
Nagorny on the Flossenbuerg evidence, saying the Demjanjuk precedent
does not apply to concentration camp guards, and Weiden is only
investigating the Demjanjuk case.
A Munich state court in June also refused to extradite Demjanjuk to
Spain on Flossenbuerg-related charges.
"The service as a guard alone in a concentration camp, which was not a
so-called death camp, is not enough," the court said in its ruling.
Nestler said, however, that neither the Munich prosecutors nor the
court made any legal arguments to back their statements that guards at
concentration camps cannot be prosecuted without evidence of a specific
"If the prosecution sticks to its position, then they would actually be
playing the card of Demjanjuk's defense, who always said this is one
case that it is being singled out," Nestler said. "If the prosecution
now says that, after we've achieved the conviction of Demjanjuk, then
they kind of admit they took an exceptional approach for Demjanjuk."