Ukrainian council condemned for defending Demjanjuk

(JTA) — The Ukrainian Jewish Committee has condemned the Lvov regional council for defending Nazi guard John Demjanjuk.

Lawmakers in the Ukrainian city of Lvov are claiming that the upcoming trial in Germany of Demjanjuk, who worked at the Sobibor concentration camp during World War II and was stripped of his U.S. citizenship and deported several months ago, is an international conspiracy to discredit Ukraine in world opinion, the Kiev Post reported Thursday.

The Ukrainian Jewish Committee said that the lawmakers are making "a big mistake."

"Ukrainians are perceived globally as a winning nation in World War II, a nation that suffered the largest losses in the fight against fascism. Lvov deputies’ provocative appeals are asserting undesirable and unobjective associations in the minds of many," the committee said in a statement on Thursday.

Demjanjuk, 89, is charged in Germany with being an accessory to the murder of some 27,900 Jews in the gas chambers at the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland.

In the early 1980s, he was accused of being the notorious guard Ivan the Terrible at the Treblinka death camp, and he was deported to Israel in 1986 and sentenced to death in 1988. But the Israeli Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 1993 after finding reasonable doubt that he was Ivan the Terrible.

The U.S. Justice Department charged Demjanjuk with being a guard at Sobibor and revoked his citizenship in 2002 for lying about his Nazi past. His deportation was approved in 2005. Germany requested his extradition in March. He was extradited to Germany in May, where he remains in prison.
 

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