JERUSALEM (Apr. 30)
A West German police expert said Tuesday that there is a “very high probability” that the photograph on an SS identification card is that of accused war criminal John Demjanjuk, on trial in Jerusalem district court.
Reinhard Altmann, head of the fingerprint and photographic criminal identification unit of the German federal police, said his conclusion was based on a detailed comparison of seven photographs of the defendant with the photograph on the ID card issued at the Trawniki camp where Demjanjuk allegedly was trained for guard duty at Treblinka.
Altmann, appearing for the prosecution, described the sophisticated technique developed by his unit in Wiesbaden to comparison are sliced in half vertically and half of one is mounted with half of the other to form a video montage. He said it was thus possible to discern minute facial characteristics which, when combined, “make up the uniqueness of every man.”
Altmann told the court that “very high probability” is the second highest on the scale used by his department. The highest level is “near certainty” which, he said, is rarely used because it can be applied only to very detailed photographs taken under very similar circumstances. But the difference between the two levels is “very fine,” he said. Demjanjuk’s defense contends that the ID card, obtained from the Soviet Union, is a KGB forgery. Last week a West German handwriting expert testified it was “almost certain” that the signature on the ID card was Demjanjuk’s though he could not be positive.