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Demjanjuk’s Family Removed As War Crimes Trial Ends

February 19, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The final day of the year-long trial of accused war criminal John Demjanjuk was marked by an emotional outburst from the defendant’s family Thursday.

Demjanjuk’s wife, Vera, his daughter, Irene, and son, John Jr., were removed from the courtroom after rushing to the dais with anguished cries of “Liar, you are lying, shame on you, shame on you.”

Their explosion was triggered by chief prosecutor Michael Shaked’s implication that the defense had employed anti-Semites as investigators to collect evidence. Shaked was responding to the charge by chief defense counsel Paul Chumak on Wednesday that the trial was conducted unfairly and the state withheld evidence.

Shaked charged that the defense investigators, “some of whom not only were not acceptable” were also “disgusting” because of the “hate-filled” writings they had distributed around the world.

Chumak apologized to the court for his remark Wednesday likening the trial to the notorious Dreyfus affair in France some 90 years ago. Alfred Dreyfus, a French army captain, was convicted of treason on the basis of doctored evidence.

The defense attorney, a Canadian, said he had “innocently referred” to the Dreyfus case. “I meant no criticism or dishonor to this court” and “if there were such inferences that anyone could draw, then I apologize,” he said.

But Chumak refused to retract his remark, as demanded by presiding Judge Dov Levin, who was infuriated by the comparison.

Demjanjuk’s defense contends that the key document incriminating Demjanjuk, an German SS identification card issued to Ukrainian prisoners of war being trained as concentration camp guards, was a KGB forgery. The card was obtained from the Soviet Union.

Demjanjuk, 68, a Ukrainian-born retired automobile worker from Cleveland, Ohio, is accused of being the Treblinka death camp guard known as “Ivan the Terrible” who operated the gas chambers and brutalized Jews.

Levin said 10 day’s notice would be given before the verdict is read.

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