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Prosecutor Winds Up His Case in Demjanjuk War Crimes Trial

January 26, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The trial of accused war criminal John Demjanjuk neared its end Monday, as chief prosecutor Michael Shaked presented his final argument in Jerusalem district court.

At one point, the court called a recess to allow Shaked to regain his composure after his emotional description of the Treblinka death camp, where Demjanjuk allegedly operated the gas chambers in which some 800,000 Jews died.

Before the prosecutor broke down, he attacked the professional competence of forensic experts testifying for the defense, who questioned the authenticity of a key document — the SS identification card allegedly issued to Demjanjuk when he trained for guard duty at Treblinka.

Shaked also stressed discrepancies between Demjanjuk’s statements to police before the trial began nearly a year ago and his testimony in court.

Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian-born retired automobile worker from Cleveland, Ohio, has denied from the onset that he was the Treblinka guard whose brutality earned him the sobriquet of “Ivan the Terrible.” He claims to have been a German prisoner of war at the time he is accused of his deeds at Treblinka.

The ID card was said to have been issued to Demjanjuk at Trawniki, the SS camp in Poland where captured Red Army soldiers were trained for duties at Treblinka and other camps.

The defense claims the card, which was obtained from the Soviets, is a forgery.

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