MUNICH — German judges heard a deceased Sobibor guard's statements made to Soviet authorities that he remembers John Demjanjuk from the Nazi death camp Wednesday despite defense objections.
The Demjanjuk, 90, a retired Ohio autoworker, is standing trial on 28,060 counts of accessory to murder, for allegedly having been a guard at the camp in occupied Poland. He denies ever having been a guard anywhere.
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In the summarized statements from a 1949 KGB interrogation, Ignat Danilchenko said he remembered Demjanjuk from the death camp.
"He wore a German Waffen SS uniform, he carried German weapons, he took
part in the guarding of Jewish civilians, and he brought them to the gas
chamber," Danilchenko said, according to the summary.
Doubt has been cast on the statements — some of which have already come up in the current trial — in the past.
US investigators have said they contain numerous factual errors.
And in March, German historian Dieter Pohl, who was called as an expert
witness, said the statements should be treated with the "highest
caution" because they came from a KGB interrogation. He testified that
it appeared Danilchenko was telling the KGB what interrogators wanted to
Presiding Judge Ralph Alt rejected objections from defense attorney
Ulrich Busch, who argued that the statements could have been made under
torture, or the summaries faked. Alt referred to a previous ruling that
the court would read the statements into the record and then decide on
For the second day in a row, the trial opened late because of Demjanjuk's health.
Alt ordered Demjanjuk brought in from the prison hospital where he is being held after he did not show up on time.
Court doctor Albrecht Stein told the court that Demjanjuk complained of
pain and said he did not want to attend. But Stein said he had examined
Demjanjuk twice and given him another electrocardiogram, and found him
fit for trial.
All this week Demjanjuk's attorney has argued that Demjanjuk is in
serious pain and can no longer concentrate on the proceedings, but Stein
has declared him able to go on.
Demjanjuk suffers from a number of medical problems, and since his trial
began last November a dozen sessions have been canceled due to health