Munich court prepares to give verdict on Demjanjuk

Demjanjuk is charged with accessory to the murder of 28,060 Jews at the Sobibor extermination camp.

May 12, 2011 13:10
1 minute read.
Accused Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk

John Demjanjuk 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Lukas Barth/Pool)

A court in Munich prepared to deliver a verdict on Thursday in the case of John Demjanjuk, who was accused of being a Nazi death camp guard.

Demjanjuk, 91, rejected an offer from judges to make a final statement before the verdict.

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Demjanjuk’s defense attorney, Ulrich Busch, argued on Tuesday during closing arguments that there are possibly “six or seven Demjanjuks,” opening up the line of reasoning that it is a case of mistaken identity. According to Busch, the multiple descriptions of Demjanjuk during the course of the trial raise doubts on the assertion that his client committed mass murder.

Demjanjuk is charged with accessory to the murder of 28,060 Jews at the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland. Busch argued that the German authorities should dismiss the charges because the crimes took place in Poland, and the authorities in Poland did not pursue a criminal prosecution against Demjanjuk.

According to a Tagesspiegel report, shortly before being brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair, Demjanjuk said, “I am not Hitler. What is wrong with you?”

It was unclear if he slept during the trial or was consciously following the hearings with his eyes shut.

A Ukrainian interpreter translates the proceedings for the Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk, who worked as an auto worker in Ohio.

Closing arguments are slated to continue on Wednesday.

Rob Fransman, from Holland, is a joint plaintiff in the case against Demjanjuk. His parents, Rachel and Izak, both Dutch Jews, were deported to Sobibor in 1943 and killed in the gas chambers. The 70-year-old Fransman deemed Demjanjuk’s silence a “posthumous insult of the victims.”

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