This Week in History: 'Ivan the Terrible' gets death sentence

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On April 25, 1988, Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk was sentenced to death by hanging for war crimes and crimes against the Jewish people and humanity. But five years later, on July 29 1993, the Supreme Court overturned the lower court's decision, freeing him on the grounds that there was "reasonable doubt" he was "Ivan the Terrible", a notoriously sadistic prison guard who operated the gas chambers at the Treblinka extermination camp. The ruling followed Demjanjuk's appeal after the original sentencing. The verdict marked the closure of one episode of a three-decade-long series of legal proceedings surrounding the involvement of the Ukrainian-born émigré in World War II, which ended only when he died in 2012, at the age of 91. He died a free man, but a man in limbo, awaiting the verdict of his latest appeal following the Munich court's conviction that he assisted in the murder of at least 27,900 Jews as a Nazi guard at the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland. The court had sentenced him to five years in prison, but immediately released him pending appeal, due to his age.

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