Sviatoslav Karavansky   Ukrainian Weekly   07-Aug-1988   Ruth Okunyeva says no corpus delicti
"The court had not specified the corpus delicti of the alleged criminal, since the allegation that Demjanjuk had killed 850,000 Jews is absurd." Ruth Okunyeva

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The Demjanjuk verdict: justice or vengeance?

by Sviatoslav Karavansky

The death sentence for John Demjanjuk has provoked a negative reaction among the majority of those who kept up with the Jerusalem trial.

The judicial worth of the Demjanjuk trial is reflected in the Israeli prosecutor's statement, made before the court, that the Soviet version of the massacre of the Polish officers in Katyn is truthful and beyond any doubt.  If the Israeli justice officials recognize this fraud by Stalin and Beria as a judicial document, what equity can such justice produce?

The Soviet KGB participation in the Demjanjuk trial also indicates the judicial worth of the whole adjudication.  Israeli justice did not shy away from cooperating with a partner well-known for slanderous and falsifying practice.  A justice system that collaborates with the Soviets hardly can be called justice.

The death sentence, according to a democratic judicial system, can be imposed only if the defendant's guilt is beyond any doubt.  The majority of the impartial observers at the trial did not have such an impression.  The proclamation of the death sentence under the circumstance of doubt is one more evidence of the Israeli court's deviation from democratic justice.

The trial in Israel cannot be considered a just trial.  This is the opinion of many observers, including some Israeli ones.

Soon after the proclamation of the death sentence, an Israeli citizen, doctor of history Ruth Okunyeva wrote a letter to the Israeli government, defending Mr. Demjanjuk.  This letter, cited below, may respond to the question asked in the title of this article.

Dear Mr. President of the State of Israel, Chanim Herzog,
Dear Mr. Chairman of the Supreme Court of the State of Israel,
I appeal to you to pardon John Demjanjuk.

On April 26, 1988, the Jerusalem Court sentenced John Demjanjuk to death, having insufficient or, rather, no substantiated evidence of guilt, but only on the grounds of:

1.  contradictory testimony by doubtful witnesses, since the prosecution had produced no documentation confirming the judicial validity of those individuals as witnesses:
a)  witnesses for the prosecution were individuals with altered names, modified dates, places of birth and dubious biographies;

b)  there was no documentation before the court indicating the place of residence and occupation of those individuals during 1942-1943;

c)  there was no documentation before the court establishing when these individuals were in "Treblinka-2" and their duties in the camp;
2.  a forged document, which essentially is an alibi for the defendant, since there was no mention of Treblinka in that document;

3.  there was no (proper) identification of the defendant:
a)  identification by the pointing of a finger at the only defendant in the dock can by no means be considered a positive identification;

b)  identification of an individual by witnesses without a preliminary process of identification and without documentary confirmation, especially after a duration of 45 years, cannot be considered a positive identification;

4.  there was no ascertainment of the corpus delicti of John Demjanjuk:
a)  it is not possible to charge a defendant with any crime without first ascertaining his identity;

b)  the court produced no documentation concerning Demjanjuk's stay in Treblinka in 1942-1943 as a hangman, since no lists of the staff of the camp, or camp orders, or any other documents listing Demjanjuk's name were secured;

c)  the court had obtained no lists of people killed in the Treblinka-2 death camp, specifically, no lists of people killed by Demjanjuk;

d)  the court had not specified the corpus delicti of the alleged criminal, since the allegation that Demjanjuk had killed 850,000 Jews is absurd.
A court that imposes a death sentence on the basis of such "evidence" is unfair and illegal.

World public opinion is indignant over the conduct of this case and the viciousness of the sentence.

If such a verdict is confirmed, it will: discredit Israel as a righteous state and provoke world public opinion, especially in Ukraine, to an understandably negative reaction.

The world is shocked by the blood-thirsty reaction of the public in the courtroom during the reading of the death sentence.  Applause, shouts of delight, songs and dances by "Holocaust survivors" resounded in the courtroom; this was accompanied by expression of hysterical joy in the Israeli press and by the irresponsible statements of "elected officials."

Shame and dishonor.

Revenge and justice cannot go together.  The civilized world is unaccustomed to measure human better feelings by cannibalistic standards.

A nation that suffered is a generous nation and would not take vengeance on another nation by persecuting one of its innocent members.

An individual who has suffered cannot rejoice when another is suffering, even if he is an enemy.

People standing at the helm of justice must not indulge mean-spirited instincts of mob rule.

Let your last decision be made not in vengeance, but in justice.

To do this all right and power.

Rescue Demjanjuk.

April 30, 1988
Doctor of History Ruth Okunyeva,
researcher of Jewish history,
Zionism, and the Holocaust.