Demjanjuk appeals for mercy
Demjanjuk appeals for mercyIsrael News Photo: (file)

Ukrainian-American John Demjanjuk is scheduled to be deported to Germany on Monday after the United States Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement refused his appeal to block his deportation for humanitarian reasons. The former automobile worker, who turns 89 on Friday, was accused in March by Germany of 29,000 counts of involvement in murder when he served as a guard in the Sobibor and Treblinka concentration camps during the Second World War.

Demjanjuk (dem-YAHN'-yook) said in a statement published Tuesday that his health condition is deteriorating and his expulsion would be inappropriate and embarrassing. Demjanjuk’s son stated in an interview almost a week ago that his father is suffering from a chronic kidney disease. Demjanjuk is scheduled to be arrested and taken to prison or a prison hospital when he arrives in Munich

Demjanjuk, named Ivan in his native tongue, has been fighting to keep his U.S. citizenship since 1977, when the Justice Department recommended that it 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 by a panel of the Israeli High Court of Justice. 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 of Treblinka but earned that name at another camp.

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.

Demjanjuk was nevertheless allowed to return to the United States due to insufficient evidence and the Attorney General’s decision not to prosecute for Demjanjuk’s role as a camp guard at Sobibor.

On May 1, 2004, a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Demjanjuk could be again stripped of his U.S. citizenship due to new evidence presented by the U.S. Justice Department which indicated that Demjanjuk served in Nazi death camps. Demjanjuk appealed the ruling. Nevertheless, on December 28, 2005, an immigration judge ordered Demjanjuk deported to Ukraine, citing that there was no evidence to indicate that he would be mistreated if deported to his country of birth.

On June 19, 2008 Germany announced it would seek the extradition of Demjanjuk to Germany. Demjanjuk was charged by Germany on March 11, 2009 with more than 29,000 counts of accessory to murder of Jewish prisoners at the Sobibor extermination camp.