Daily Israel Report

US to Deport Nazi Camp Guard John Demjanjuk

Demjanjuk is accused of serving as a Nazi guard during the Holocaust, a fact he concealed in his request for political asylum in the United States.
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
First Publish: 5/20/2008, 12:23 PM

John Demjanjuk, 88, lost an appeal to the US Supreme Court on Monday against deportation from the United States to his native country, Ukraine. Demjanjuk is accused of serving as a Nazi guard during the Holocaust, a fact he concealed in his post-World War II request for political asylum in the United States.

In their appeal, which the high court refused to hear, Demjanjuk's attorneys tried to argue that a Cleveland, Ohio,
The Ohio court rejected the claim that the retired auto worker would suffer torture and persecution in Ukraine.
Immigration Court lacked the authority to order his deportation in 2005. The Ohio court rejected the claim that the retired auto worker would suffer torture and persecution in Ukraine; however, the court specified that if Ukraine refuses to accept him, Demjanjuk will be sent to either Poland or Germany.

Demjanjuk, named Ivan in his native tongue, has been fighting to keep his US citizenship since 1977, when the US Justice Department recommended that his citizenship be revoked. By 1986, he was extradited to Israel to face charges that he was the brutal Nazi-era Treblinka camp guard known as "Ivan the Terrible."

Based in part on the American Justice Department investigation and Israeli testimony, Demjanjuk was sentenced to death in 1988. However, on appeal, the Israeli Supreme Court overturned the death sentence in 1993, saying that new evidence from the collapsed Soviet Union introduced doubt that Demjanjuk was indeed Ivan the Terrible.

Immediately following the Supreme Court decision, ten Holocaust survivors petitioned the High Court of Justice demanding that Demjanjuk stand trial for Holocaust-era crimes as a guard at Sobibor and other concentration camps. The appellants argued that, while he may not have been identified as Ivan the Terrible, Demjanjuk could still be charged for his own crimes.

In rejecting the survivors' petition, the justices noted that Demjanjuk was extradited from the United States specifically to stand trial for offenses attributed to Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka, and not for other alternative charges. They also believed that the likelihood of a further acquittal was high, limiting therefore the public interest in pursuing the case. Demjanjuk was ultimately released and returned to America.

In 2002, a federal court judge determined that Demjanjuk served a Nazi camp guard in Poland and in Germany. Therefore, the court said, he must still be deported for having misrepresented his war-time activities at the time of his asylum request.

Demjanjuk claimed that he served in the Soviet army during World War II and was imprisoned by the Germans, not enlisted by them.