CINCINNATI (Apr. 5)
Lawyers for convicted Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk told the U.S. Court of Appeals here that the U.S. government’s conduct in the case against their client “included repeated misrepresentations” that were “probably intentional.”
The charges were contained in a 167-page document submitted to the court last week as part of the investigation into alleged misconduct by the U.S. Department of Justice in its effort to have Demjanjuk deported.
Demjanjuk was extradited to Israel in 1986, where he was sentenced to death for crimes committed as “Ivan the Terrible,” the notorious Treblinka death camp guard.
The 72-year-old former Cleveland auto worker is awaiting a decision on his appeal of the sentence.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided last June to reopen the case and appointed a special master, U.S. District Judge Thomas Wiseman Jr. of Nashville, to look into allegations that the U.S. government had withheld exculpatory evidence regarding Demjanjuk.
The Justice Department also submitted a filing to the court last week Both sides were asked to review the findings of Wiseman’s investigation and submit their own conclusions.
U.S. SAYS FRAUD NOT ESTABLISHED
Demjanjuk “has fallen far short” of “showing that the government conceived and executed the kind of ‘deliberate and unconscionable’ scheme necessary to establish fraud on the court,” the government wrote.
A key point in Demjanjuk’s brief is the contention that a deposition made by former SS guard Otto Horn regarding his identification of a photograph as Demjanjuk was “inconsistent in significant respects.”
Government attorneys argued that identification of Demjanjuk was based on evidence from Horn and corroborated by villagers and survivors of the camp at Treblinka.
Also central to Demjanjuk’s defense was the claim that George Parker resigned from his position as an attorney in the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations because he believed that continued prosecution of Demjanjuk would be “ethically unacceptable,” in light of evidence casting doubt as to whether Demjanjuk was indeed “Ivan the Terrible.”
Demjanjuk has claimed repeatedly that his is a case of mistaken identity, and that new evidence retrieved from the former Soviet Union proves that another man was in fact “Ivan.”
His lawyers have charged that the government deliberately withheld this evidence, but the Justice Department said in its brief that any failure to disclose evidence was “unintentional.”
According to Debra Nagle, a spokeswoman for the court, the briefs will be reviewed by Wiseman and he will submit his findings to the Court of Appeals. The court will then have the option of ruling on the findings, asking for more information or holding new hearings.
While no formal timetable has been set, Nagle said she expects Wiseman to file his report by the end of April. A decision by the appeals court is expected as early as mid-May.