Germany may seek accused Nazi guard living in US

BERLIN (AP) -- Germany's highest criminal court turned over to Munich prosecutors on Thursday the case against a retired Ohio auto worker accused of serving as a Nazi death camp guard, paving the way for his possible extradition from the United States for trial.

Munich prosecutors will now decide whether there is enough evidence of John Demjanjuk's alleged involvement in the deaths of 29,000 Jews at Sobibor camp to charge him and request that he be returned to Germany for trial, spokesman Anton Winkler said. Demjanjuk, 88, lives in suburban Cleveland.

The Munich office was still awaiting files from Germany's federal office that pursues Nazi-era crimes, and Winkler said it was not certain when a decision would be made.

Demjanjuk lived in a Munich-area refugee camp after the war, which the Federal Court of Justice ruled was enough to hand jurisdiction of the case to Munich prosecutors. The federal office also has said it believes there is enough evidence to charge him.

Charlotte Knobloch, president of Germany's Central Council of Jews, urged authorities to "do everything legally possible to accelerate the process so that Demjanjuk can be held responsible for his crimes during his lifetime."

"Demjanjuk and all other Nazi criminals still alive should know that for them there is no mercy," she was quoted as saying by Munich's Abendzeitung newspaper.

Demjanjuk's son, John Demjanjuk Jr., said Thursday that his father has spent 30 years defending himself and that there was no new evidence in the German case, which he predicted would not go to trial.

"Today, at 88 years old, he is in very frail health and unable to endure travel and another foreign trial," Demjanjuk Jr. said in a statement e-mailed to the Associated Press in Cleveland. "These statements about possible charges are not about justice ... they are about self-serving headlines."

Demjanjuk, a native of Ukraine who emigrated to the United States in 1952, denies involvement in war crimes, saying he served in the Soviet army and became a prisoner of war when he was captured by Germany in 1942.

But a U.S. District judge ruled in 2002 that Demjanjuk had served at several Nazi death camps during World War II.

German prosecutors have said Demjanjuk was a guard for seven months at the Sobibor death camp, in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Demjanjuk was extradited to Israel in 1986, when the U.S. Justice Department believed he was the sadistic Nazi guard known as Ivan the Terrible at the Treblinka death camp. He spent seven years in custody before the Israeli high court freed him after receiving evidence that another Ukrainian, not Demjanjuk, was that Nazi guard.

But when he returned to the United States, the Justice Department again sought to revoke his citizenship, alleging he had been a guard at Nazi death and forced-labor camps.

A December 2005 ruling determined he could be deported to Ukraine, Germany or Poland, but Demjanjuk spent several years challenging that ruling.

On May 19, the U.S. Supreme Court chose not to consider Demjanjuk's appeal against deportation, paving the way for the case in Germany.


Associated Press writer M.R. Kropko in Cleveland contributed to this report.

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.