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nbc41.com | 29Jun2012 | Associated Press
Appeals Court Rejects
Demjanjuk's Citizenship Bid
CLEVELAND -- A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected a request to
restore the U.S. citizenship of a recently deceased Ohio autoworker
convicted of Nazi war crimes.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled that John
Demjanjuk cannot regain his citizenship posthumously. The court ruling
said in its ruling that his death made the case moot.
Demjanjuk died March 17, 2012 in Germany at age 91. His defense
asked the appeals court to restore the former suburban Cleveland
resident's citizenship, saying the American government withheld
potentially helpful material.
The defense team had asked in its filing in April that the court either
restore the citizenship or order a hearing on the case.
"Nothing in Demjanjuk's current appeal warrants relief," the appeals
court said in a two-page opinion.
The decision upheld a ruling last year by a Cleveland judge who refused
to reopen the citizenship case.
Demjanjuk's attorneys said U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland
erred in his refusal. The government argued that the defense filing
contained no new information in the matter.
The Ukraine-born Demjanjuk lived for decades in Seven Hills in suburban
Cleveland before he was convicted by a Munich court last May on 28,060
counts of being an accessory to murder at the Sobibor death camp in
occupied Poland. Demjanjuk, who maintained that he had been mistaken
for someone else, died while his conviction was under appeal.
The defense team alleged that Polster violated basic fairness by ruling
against Demjanjuk's citizenship appeal without holding a hearing on a
1985 secret FBI report uncovered recently by The Associated Press. The
document indicates that the FBI believed a Nazi ID card purportedly
showing that Demjanjuk served as a death camp guard was a Soviet-made
Anything that could cast doubt onto the legitimacy of the government's
case against a naturalized citizen should be highly relevant, the
The government responded to the 1985 document with an affidavit last
year from retired FBI agent Thomas Martin. Martin said the report he
wrote was based on speculation and not on any investigation. Martin
said he based his speculation partly on his understanding that the
Soviet secret police had a longstanding program to target dissidents
living overseas, "for the purpose of intimidation, threat or actual
Martin said in the affidavit that he reached no conclusions about the
ID card's authenticity.
The appeals court rejected the arguments on Demjanuk's behalf. "Over
three decades, we have repeatedly rejected Demjanjuk's challenges to
the authenticity of the Trawniki card and fraud on the court," the
Demjanjuk's attorneys said Polster did not see all of the withheld
materials, and that it would be unusual for an FBI agent to submit a
report to Washington headquarters based only on conjecture.
Carole S. Rendon, first assistant U.S. attorney for northern Ohio, said
she hopes the decision puts the case to rest.
"The 6th Circuit confirmed once and for all that the real victims were
the tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children who suffered
and died at the camps where Demjanjuk was a Nazi guard," she said in an
"We are hopeful that this is the last chapter in this decades long
pursuit of justice and that the innocent victims of Demjanjuk's
horrific crimes will now rest in peace."
One of Demjanjuk's attorneys, Dennis Terez, said the defense was
evaluating the opinion. There was no further comment.
There was no immediate comment from Demjanjuk's family. Messages
seeking comment were left for his son, John Jr.
Demjanjuk previously was tried, convicted and sentenced to death in
Israel as the notoriously brutal guard "Ivan the Terrible" at the
Treblinka extermination camp. The Israeli Supreme Court unanimously
overturned the conviction after Israel received evidence that another
Ukrainian, not Demjanjuk, was that Nazi guard.
But the supreme court judges also said that they still believed
Demjanjuk had served the Nazis, probably at the Trawniki SS training
camp and Sobibor, and declined to order a new trial. They said there
was a risk of violating the law prohibiting trying someone twice on the