German prosecutors want 6-year prison term for Demjanjuk


BERLIN (JTA) — State prosecutors in Munich have asked for a six-year jail sentence for accused Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk.

The request by prosecutor Hans-Joachim came during closing arguments Tuesday in a Munich courtroom. A verdict is expected in May following a trial that has lasted nearly a year and a half.

Lutz reportedly said the evidence proved that Demjanjuk, now 90, had played an active role as an accomplice to the murder of 27,900 Jews in the Nazi death camp Sobibor in Poland in 1943. Lutz said Demjanjuk had participated in the murder out of "cruel, treacherous and base motives."

Everyone who worked at the extermination camp was involved in murder, he said, and there is no statute of limitation on murder — even nearly 70 years after the crime.

Defense attorney Ulrich Busch maintains that his client, a Ukraine native, was taken prisoner by the Nazis and was forced by them to train as an SS guard at the Trawniki camp Poland. He describes Demjanjuk as the victim of the German justice system, which he claims is seeking a scapegoat.

Demjanjuk immigrated to the United States after the war and lived in suburban Cleveland. He later was 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 the notorious "Ivan the Terrible" guard at the Treblinka death camp. In May 2009, he was deported from the United States to Germany. His trial on the Sobibor charges began in late 2009.

It is estimated that 250,000 Jews, many of them Dutch, were murdered at Sobibor. Demjanjuk is charged as an accomplice in the murders of those who were killed while he was there — there are 27,900 known names of victims.

A Spanish court requested recently that Demjanjuk be extradited to stand trial there for war crimes against Spanish citizens.

Recommended from JTA