Demjanjuk threatens hunger strike


BERLIN  (JTA) — Accused Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk said he will start a hunger strike in two weeks unless new evidence is introduced in his trial in Germany.

On Tuesday, the day scheduled for final arguments in his 16-month trial in Munich, Demjanjuk was brought into the courtroom holding a sign bearing the number 1627, the number of a file that defense attorney Ulrich Busch says might hold the key to his client’s release. 

According to news reports, Busch is demanding this and other materials be introduced as evidence. He also wants judges who presided over previous trials in Israel and the United States to testify.

Demjanjuk, who was already been subjected to trials by the U.S. and Israel, threatened to begin a hunger strike within two weeks if the files are not introduced.

A former Ohio autoworker, Demjanjuk, 90, is charged as an accessory to the murder of 29,700 Jews at the Sobibor death camp in Poland in 1943. Ulrich, who maintains Demjanjuk was forced by the Nazis to train as an SS guard, also on Tuesday read a statement from his client in which he once again refers to himself as the victim of a "political show trial." 

"At the end of my life, Germany — the country that murdered millions of people — is trying to extinguish my dignity, my soul and my spirit," the statement said.

Busch is demanding that the court introduce 100 new items of evidence, Reuters reported. The court suggested that these requests might be part of a delaying tactic. The last scheduled court date is March 23.

A Ukrainian native, Demjanjuk, immigrated to the United States after the war and lived in suburban Cleveland. He was later stripped of his citizenship for lying about his Nazi past. A death sentence against him was overturned in Israel after the Supreme Court found reasonable doubt that he was a guard at the Treblinka death camp. In May 2009, he was deported from the United States to Germany, where he is standing trial on the Sobibor charges.

Recently, a Spanish court requested that Demjanjuk be extradited to stand trial for war crimes there as well.

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