BERLIN (JTA) — Munich state prosecutors appealed a district court’s decision to release convicted Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk from prison pending his appeal.
Monday’s appeal of Demjanjuk’s release, following his conviction on war crimes on May 12, also appealed the five-year sentence handed down that day for being too lenient.
The prosecutors’ reasons will be presented in writing and only then released to the public, according to a spokesperson for the Munich District II court, which found Demjanjuk, 91, guilty as an accessory to nearly 28,000 murders in the Nazi death camp Sobibor in occupied Poland in 1943.
Demjanjuk’s main attorney, Ulrich Busch, appealed the conviction immediately. It is likely the appeals process will take more than a year, observers have said.
Demjanjuk, who is stateless and has no relatives in Germany, has been placed in a nursing home.
While Jewish leaders have decried Demjanjuk’s release from jail, a group of Dutch co-plaintiffs said they found the entire court proceeding encouraging.
Their “respect for the court’s verdict includes respect for the court’s decision to release Demjanjuk until his appeals are decided and the guilty verdict is upheld,” said a statement from their Cologne-based attorney, Cornelius Nestler.
Meanwhile, U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster last week appointed a public defender to assist Demjanjuk in reviving the U.S. denaturalization case against him. The move follows the release by The Associated Press of a 1985 FBI report challenging the authenticity of the Nazi ID card that was the key evidence against him in the German trial and in stripping him of his U.S. citizenship for lying about his Nazi past in order to gain entry into the United States.