Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Prosecution Expected to Request Death Sentence for Demjanjuk

April 25, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The prosecution is expected to demand the death penalty for John Demjanjuk when the three-judge panel that convicted him of war crimes on April 18 convenes Monday to consider its sentence.

The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk, 68, was convicted under the 1950 Nazi and Nazi Collaborators Law, the same law under which Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was hanged here in 1962. The defense can argue for a lesser sentence.

But it may waive the right to summon character witnesses and appeal directly to Israel’s Supreme Court. In the event of a death sentence, appeal is automatic.

The Jerusalem district court established, after a 15-month trial, that Demjanjuk was the Treblinka death camp guard known as “Ivan the Terrible” who operated the gas chambers, where some 800,000 Jews perished.

He was convicted of crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people, war crimes and crimes against persecuted people. While each count carries the death penalty, it also implies murder for which the maximum sentence under Israeli law is life imprisonment.

The court therefore has a degree of flexibility in pronouncing sentence, legal authorities here have pointed out.

Recommended from JTA