John Demjanjuk out of his home, but court halts deportation.
SEVEN HILLS — John Demjanjuk was taken from his home today to face his wartime past, but a federal appeals court has halted deportation proceedings.
U.S. immigration agents arrived at Demjanjuk's yellow-brick ranch on Meadowlane Road at 1 p.m. Tuesday to deport him to Germany. About 90 minutes later, agents carried him out his front door. With his head tilted back, eyes closed and mouth open, Demjanjuk was placed in a white medical van.
It rolled out of his driveway, leaving his 83-year-old wife, Vera, and family members in tears. His daughters and former son-in-law Ed Nishnic were at the home. His son, John Jr., had sped to Cincinnati to file a last-minute appeal to keep him here.
About six hours later, the 89-year-old Demjanjuk was scheduled to board a Gulf Stream jet, headed for Munich. He was to touch down there Wednesday morning.
"If we want to prevent future genocides, then we must prosecute those who commit the crime until their last dying day,'' said Jonathan Drimmer, a former federal prosecutor who handled Demjanjuk's case for years.
His family, however, said Demjanjuk is too weak and frail to even care for himself, let alone defend himself. They said he suffers chronic kidney disease and blood disorders and fear he will never go to trial, instead live his last days in a German hospital.
He is accused of being an accessory to the murders of more than 29,000 Jews as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1943. He was 23 at the time.
His family made a last-minute appeal to the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, as Demjanjuk's son, John Jr., sped to the courthouse to file documents. Federal prosecutors said the appellate court lacked the jurisdiction to handle the case.
Demjanjuk's family said he suffers from chronic kidney disease, blood disorders and severe pain in his back and legs. They said the removal, as well as a possible trial in Germany, would amount to torture.
"Given his current medical condition, he will not endure the stress of what the Germans have planned," Demjanjuk's son, John Jr., said earlier this month.
Using evidence first introduced by federal prosecutors in Cleveland in 2001, German authorities claim Demjanjuk walked Jews from rail cars to the gas chambers at the Sobibor death camp in 1943.
A German judge issued an arrest warrant last month that accused him with being an accessory to the deaths of more than 29,000 people at the camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. Demjanjuk was 23 at the time.
Demjanjuk's case began in Cleveland in 1977, when he was first accused of being "Ivan the Terrible,'' a sadistic guard at the Treblinka death camp. He was extradicted to Israel, convicted and sentenced to death before the Israeli Supreme Court overturned his conviction.
He came home, but a federal judge later ruled that Demjanjuk worked at three other Nazi camps. He was ordered deported in 2005, though no country would accept him until Germany did earlier this year. Demjanjuk's son said there is no evidence that his father ever hurt one person, let alone help kill 29,000.
The family says he served in the Soviet army when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in 1942. The Germans captured him and sent him to various prisoner-of-war camps before he lived in displaced-persons camps.
U.S. judges have found that Demjanjuk was captured and sent to the Trawniki training camp for guards in 1942. He then went to work at various camps, including Sobibor.
He immigrated to the United States in 1952.
[Source: By John Caniglia, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio, 14Apr09]
Caso SS Totenkopf
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