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

Premium special: A glimpse into historical moments in Israeli news from 'The Jerusalem Post' Page 1 archives.

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.
On April 22, 1979 The Jerusalem Post reported that Moscow had released five Prisoners of Zion, who had been convicted in 1970 of attempting to steal a Soviet plane in order to be able to emigrate to Israel, in what became known as the Dymshits–Kuznetsov aircraft hijacking affair. The five men --  Boris Penson, Anatoly Altman, Leib Khnokh, Hillel Butman and Wolf Zalmanson -- were given surprise pardons, by order of then-leader of the Soviet Union Leonid Brezhnev.
On April 20, 1986, Irish-born Anne-Marie Murphy was placed under police protection, after her Jordanian  fiancée Nezar Hindawi planted a bomb in her bag in a failed attempt to bomb a flight from London to Tel Aviv. Hidawi was found guilty by a British court of attempting to place a bomb on the El Al flight that month, targeting 375 passengers and the crew en route to Israel. Murphy, who was six-months pregnant at the time, said she was unaware of the existence of the explosives she was carrying. El Al security agents thwarted the attack, and the British court in the Old Bailey found Hindawi guilty, sentencing him to 45 years in prison.