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Demjanjuk Witnesses’ Memories ‘unreliable,’ Says Attorney Says

February 11, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Defense attorney Yoram Sheftel challenged Wednesday the testimony of Treblinka survivors who identified suspected war criminal John Demjanjuk as the brutal death camp guard known as “Ivan the Terrible.”

In the second day of his summation for the defense in Jerusalem district court, Sheftel called the memory of the witnesses “unreliable” and affected by seeing the accused in the prisoner’s dock.

He noted that all of the survivors described “Ivan” as fat and round-faced, which is how the 67-year-old Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk appears now. But photographs of the defendant taken during World War II, when he was in his early 20s, show a thin-faced man. Demjanjuk said he was emaciated during the war, Sheftel noted.

The defense lawyer also challenged the validity of the photo identification conducted by police investigators. Sheftel accused octogenarian Miriam Radiwker, a retired investigator. of “nodding” when witnesses’ eyes paused at the picture of Demjanjuk among photographs from the war years.

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