Demjanjuk fights deportation to Germany

Lawyer files emergency motion saying that deporting ill 89-year-old would be cruel.

john demjanjuk 248 88 ap (photo credit: )
john demjanjuk 248 88 ap
(photo credit: )
An Ohio man accused of serving as a Nazi death camp guard asked a US immigration court Thursday to stop his ordered deportation to Germany to face possible trial. A German arrest warrant accuses Ukrainian native John Demjanjuk of 29,000 counts of acting as an accessory to murder at the Sobibor camp in occupied Poland during World War II. Demjanjuk, who turns 89 on Friday, lives in the Cleveland suburb of Seven Hills. His lawyer John Broadley on Thursday filed an emergency motion for a stay of removal and a motion to reopen the proceedings. He said deporting the ill Demjanjuk would be cruel. "What they are planning to do to this old man in the US and Germany will be extremely painful and amounts to torture," he said. Broadley said he filed the motions in the Immigration Court in Arlington, Virginia, which has administrative control over immigration cases in Cleveland. Immigration spokeswoman Susan Eastwood confirmed the two filings occurred. She had no information about what any immigration judge might decide to do. Demjanjuk is a retired auto worker who came to the United States after the war as a displaced person and became a naturalized US citizen. His citizenship was revoked twice. He is expected to be deported from the US to Germany soon to face a possible trial, the German Justice Ministry said Thursday. In Germany, Demjanjuk would have a chance to respond to the allegations in the arrest warrant before a judge. He denies involvement in any deaths. In a signed statement attached to the motions, Demjanjuk, seeking asylum, said that deportation to Germany "will expose me to severe physical and mental pain that clearly amount to torture under any reasonable definition of the term." A court-appointed defense lawyer in Germany, Guenther Maull, said he would seek an examination of whether Demjanjuk is fit to be held in custody and stand trial. He said he does not expect a trial to begin before this summer. Maull said there were 120 guards at Sobibor and it was unclear which of them did what. As a result, he argued, it is unclear whether formal charges would be brought to court. Demjanjuk on Wednesday asked US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to block his deportation, citing his poor health. His son says Demjanjuk suffers from chronic kidney disease and other ailments. Demjanjuk, whose US citizenship first was revoked in 1981, was sentenced to death in 1988 after being tried and convicted in Israel for war crimes. In 1993, the Israeli Supreme Court determined he was not the notorious Nazi death camp guard Ivan the Terrible at Treblinka in Poland, and he was allowed to return to his home in suburban Cleveland. Demjanjuk's US citizenship was restored in 1998 and revoked a second time in 2002. The US Department of Justice renewed its case, saying he had indeed been a Nazi guard and could be deported for falsifying information on his US immigration paperwork. A US immigration court ruled in December 2005 that he could be deported to Ukraine, Germany or Poland. The German warrant was issued last month. The case is based partly on transport lists of Jewish prisoners who arrived by train at Sobibor from March to September 1943. The US Department of Justice says Demjanjuk was there then. Munich prosecutors are handling the case because Demjanjuk spent time at a refugee camp in the area after the war. He moved to the US in 1952 and gained citizenship in 1958.