Nazi death camp guard Ivan Demjanjuk to return to Germany: lawyer

Nazi death camp guard Ivan Demjanjuk to return to Germany: lawyer

A NAZI death camp guard accused of assisting in the murder of at least 29,000 Jews will next week be flown to Germany, which seeks to try him for his alleged activities, his lawyer said. Upon his arrival on Monday in the southern German city of Munich, Ivan Demjanjuk, who turns 89 on Friday, will be arrested and either taken straight to prison or to a prison hospital, Guenter Maull said.

Demjanjuk's bid to convince officials in the US, where he now lives, to block his extradition on the grounds of poor health, has failed, Mr Maull added.

The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk - who changed his name to John when he moved to the US in 1952 - is a top target for Nazi hunters. He was ranked number two on the Simon Wiesenthal's 2008 "most wanted" Nazi criminal list, behind Aribert Heim - who, according to a recent investigation, died in 1992.

German prosecutors issued an arrest warrant in March, accusing him of serving between March and September 1943 at the Sobibor death camp in occupied Poland.

US investigators have brought together witnesses who described how Demjanjuk was seen at Sobibor kicking Jews or hitting them with his rifle butt to get them out of railway wagons more quickly.

The Office for Special Investigations (OSI) in the United States described Sobibor "as close an approximation of Hell as has ever been created on this planet".

The extradition marks the latest episode in Demjanjuk's nearly 30-year cat-and-mouse game with justice.

He was sentenced to death in 1988 in an Israeli court, suspected of being the infamous concentration camp guard "Ivan the Terrible", one of the most feared and sadistic torturers in the SS death squad.

The sentence was overturned five years later by Israel's Supreme Court after statements from former guards identified another man as "Ivan the Terrible".

He is reportedly in poor health and suffering from a form of leukemia, his lawyer said.

"We now only want to die in peace," his wife Vera told mass circulation daily Bild in a recent interview.

[Source: news.com.au (Agence France-Press), 02Apr09]

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