Attorney fears Demjanjuk worsening

Trial delayed second consecutive day, family calls it “torture.”

May 21, 2010 11:51
2 minute read.
Accused Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk.

Accused Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk.. (photo credit: AP)


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MUNICH — John Demjanjuk's family and attorney have told the AP that the 90-year-old's medical condition appears to be worsening as his trial in Germany drags on, as he was hospitalized for a second day in a row with dangerously low blood hemoglobin levels.

Demjanjuk, a former Ohio autoworker who is being tried on 27,900 counts of accessory to murder on allegations he was a guard at the Nazi's Sobibor death camp, was taken to a Munich university clinic Tuesday after complaining of chest pains, forcing that day's court session to be canceled.

Investigator: Evidence shows Demjanjuk at Sobibor
Survivor claims to identify Demjanjuk

Though an EKG exam indicated that Demjanjuk had not suffered a heart attack, doctors said his hemoglobin level was down to a reading of 8 — with normal levels being about 14 to 18 — and that he needed to remain in the hospital, presiding Judge Ralph Alt reported as he called Wednesday's session off, as well.

Alt said doctors had told him that Demjanjuk had received a transfusion and was expected to be able to return to the courtroom Thursday.

But defense attorney Ulrich Busch said a clinic doctor had told him that Demjanjuk should remain in the hospital for several more days for observation.

Demjanjuk suffers from several medical problems but has been declared fit to face trial as long as court sessions are limited to two 90-minute sessions per day.

A doctor and paramedics have been on hand at every court session to monitor his condition, and since the trial began Nov. 30 at least a half dozen sessions have been canceled due to Demjanjuk's medical issues.

His son, John Demjanjuk Jr., told the AP on Wednesday that his father's bone marrow disease has progressed and that moving forward with the trial is akin to "torture."

"They are inexplicably denying him the appropriate medical care and advanced treatment that he would have here in the US," Demjanjuk Jr. said in an e-mail. "The judge and prosecutors are pushing for the show to go on and I expect it will even if in violation of his human rights and even though the lack of evidence in the case already demands an acquittal."

Busch said Demjanjuk only rarely received transfusions while he was in the United States, but since his deportation to Germany he has now had eight, which he said was an "alarm sign."

"His condition is getting significantly worse," Busch said.

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