Wiesenthal Center Joins Survivors’ Bid to Stop Deportation of John Demjanjuk

The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center joined with eight survivors of the Sobibor death camp on Thursday to file a petition asking that Israel’s Supreme Court stop the deportation of John Demjanjuk.

The petition follows a U.S. appeals court ruling Tuesday that Demjanjuk must be allowed to return to the United States, from which he was extradited to Israel in 1986.

The petition says Demjanjuk must now be tried in Israel for the crimes he allegedly committed at Sobibor.

It rests its claim on the Supreme Court’s findings last week that although there is reasonable doubt that Demjanjuk was the savage “Ivan the Terrible” guard at the Treblinka death camp, there is substantial evidence that he was a guard at Sobibor.

Moreover, the petition cites a Nazi SS record of disciplinary action against Demjanjuk. The document comes from an SS camp in Lublin, Poland, and places Demjanjuk there on Jan. 20, 1943.

According to the document, Demjanjuk was disciplined for leaving the barracks against orders.

Efraim Zuroff, director of the Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, said the document was never investigated despite having been discovered about 18 months ago in Vilnius, Lithuania, and turned over to the Israeli court.

Zuroff said the center joined this latest petition to the court after listening to the rage of Holocaust survivors, “rage that we ourselves felt.”

Attorney General Yosef Harish will announce Aug. 11 whether Israel will try Demjanjuk for crimes at Sobibor.

His decision will come as a result of another petition to try Demjanjuk on the Sobibor charges that was filed last week by both the right-wing extremist Kach movement and a group of Holocaust survivors.

The U.S. appeals court ruled that Israel had no legal right to try the retired Cleveland auto-worker for any other crimes.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Justice Department has asked the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to close the case involving the original order for Demjanjuk’s extradition.

A year ago, the Cincinnati court opened an inquiry into whether the Justice Department had concealed evidence when it sought to strip Demjanjuk of his citizenship and have him deported.

In its brief filed Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department urged the court to accept a special master’s finding that U.S. prosecutors had not withheld evidence that would have cleared Demjanjuk.

“It is now time to close the case,” Justice Department lawyer Patty Merkamp Stemler said in the brief.

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