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High Court to Hear New Evidence in Considering Demjanjuk Appeal

May 9, 1990
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israel’s High Court of Justice will hear an appeal next Monday of the death sentence imposed on John Demjanjuk, the Ukrainian-born former U.S. citizen, who was convicted of being the Treblinka death camp guard known as “Ivan the Terrible.”

Demjanjuk, the only accused war criminal ever deported to Israel from the United States, went on trial in Jerusalem in 1987 and was sentenced to death in April 1988.

The man who was called “Ivan” operated the gas chambers at Treblinka and was exceedingly brutal to Jews, according to surviving eyewitnesses.

Demjanjuk’s lawyer, Yoram Sheftel, asked the High Court to hear evidence from a Polish woman which he says can substantiate the defense claim that his client is a victim of mistaken identity.

A five-judge panel agreed Monday to do so, over the objections of the prosecution, which claimed the evidence contains nothing new.

But it rejected Sheftel’s appeal for another — fourth — postponement of the hearing, to give him more time to gather testimony.

The defense witness is a Polish woman, Maria Dudek, 73, from the village of Volka Okgrolnik. According to Sheftel, she told an investigative team that a Ukrainian SS auxiliary named Ivan Marchenko, who frequented the pub she and her husband, Kazimierz, ran near Treblinka during the war, was called “Ivan the Terrible.”

Sheftel argues that if Marchenko was “Ivan,” Demjanjuk could not have been.

But Dudek has refused to come to Israel to testify. Sheftel sought a further postponement, hoping he could persuade her to change her mind or make a sworn statement before a Polish judge.

In any event, the High Court has agreed to admit Dudek’s testimony as reported by Sheftel.

The prosecution is expected to claim that Marchenko and Demjanjuk are the same person.

Under questioning at his trial, Demjanjuk said he could not remember his mother’s maiden name. The prosecution claims it has written evidence that the name was Marchenko, which Demjanjuk conveniently “forgot” because he was known by that name.

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