CINCINNATI (Jul. 22)
Justice Department lawyers have asked a federal appeals court here to let stand the extradition order of John Demjanjuk, arguing that an Israeli court was the proper venue for deciding whether he was in fact the sadistic Nazi death camp guard known as “Ivan the Terrible.”
In a 61-page brief along with 700 pages of records filed last week in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati, the Justice Department lawyers argued that none of the survivors who identified the former Cleve-land-area auto worker as “Ivan” has recanted his or her testimony.
The lawyers are planning to file a second brief by Aug. 1, arguing that the appeals court no longer has jurisdiction in the case.
Demjanjuk, now 72, was deported from the United States in 1986 after the 6th Circuit denied his appeal of the extradition order.
He was convicted in Israel in 1988 for torturing prisoners and operating gas chambers at the Treblinka death camp in Poland, where 900,000 Jews were murdered. He has maintained he is the victim of a case of mistaken identity.
Demjanjuk is currently appealing his 1988 death sentence to Israel’s High Court of Justice.
In an unusual move, the Cincinnati court on its own had ordered the Justice Department last month to provide all its evidence showing that Demjanjuk is not the dreaded “Ivan.”
The court said its action stemmed from recent news reports which called into question the validity of the extradition order and suggested that Justice Department lawyers had concealed evidence implicating another man as “Ivan.”
Depositions of Treblinka guards, recently released by the former Soviet Union, point to a guard named Ivan Marchenko as the man Jewish prisoners had called “Ivan the Terrible.”
But federal prosecutors state that the new evidence, now being considered by Israel’s High Court, has no bearing on the extradition order.
In briefs provided to the court, the lawyers presented evidence showing that Demjanjuk had entered the United States unlawfully because he “concealed and misrepresented his SS service” when he applied for immigration in 1952.
“Even if this court may reconsider its decision, it should not do so. The extradition warrant was not improvidently issued,” the prosecutors stated.
The appeals court set a hearing on Aug. 11 to determine whether Demjanjuk’s extradition case should be reopened.