Bat­tle re­turns to put Nazi ‘Ivan the Ter­ri­ble’ in the dock

Af­ter 20 years of le­gal wran­gling, the Nazi war crim­i­nal may be ex­tra­dited

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY AN­SHEL PF­EF­FER

JEWISH AND Is­raeli or­gan­i­sa­tions are plan­ning to pres­sure the Ukrainian gov­ern­ment to re­quest the ex­tra­di­tion of Nazi death-camp guard Ivan John Dem­jan­juk, who lost his fight against a de­por­ta­tion or­der from the United States this week.

Dem­jan­juk will not be ex­tra­dited from the United States un­til an­other coun­try is will­ing to ac­cept him and put him on trial.

The United States Supreme Court re­fused on Mon­day to hear Dem­jan­juk’s pe­ti­tion against a pre­vi­ous de­ci­sion to strip him of his Amer­i­can cit­i­zen­ship and have him de­ported. Dem­jan­juk was sen­tenced to death by the Jerusalem Dis­trict Court in 1988 for war crimes at the Tre­blinka death camp in Poland. Five years later, the Is­raeli Supreme Court over­turned the ver­dict, rul­ing that there was in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence that he was in­deed “Ivan the Ter­ri­ble” of Tre­blinka.

New doc­u­ments proved that he had been part of a group of Ukraini­ans trained as con­cen­tra­tion-camp guards, but had been sta­tioned at the So­bi­bor, Ma­j­danek, Flossen­burg and Re­gens­burg camps.

How­ever, Is­rael did not seek his rein­dict­ment, de­spite the fact that he could have been pros­e­cuted once again on the new ev­i­dence. The Jus­tice Min­istry had had enough of the fi­asco of the first trial and Dem­jan­juk had al­ready been in prison for over seven years, the manda­tory sen­tence for Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors. Dem­jan­juk then re­turned to the US.

His case was taken up by the Of­fice of Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tions in the US Jus­tice De­part­ment and in 2004, based on the new ev­i­dence, a US court ruled that he had served as a camp guard, had lied about his record upon be­com­ing an US cit­i­zen in 1958 and should there­fore be stripped of his cit­i­zen­ship.

Mon­day’s Supreme Court de­ci­sion leaves the 88-year-old Dem­jan­juk with no re­course to re­peal and should open up the path to ex­tra­di­tion and a new trial. But cur­rently there are no coun­tries will­ing to ask for his ex­tra­di­tion. The most ob­vi­ous coun­try would be Ukraine, Dem­jan­juk’s home­land, but its gov­ern­ment has shown no in­ter­est in tak­ing a step that risks in­flam­ing na­tion­al­is­tic and an­tisemitic feel­ings.

Vic­torYushchenko’sgov­ern­men­thas tried to show the West that Ukraine has put its his­tory of an­tisemitism be­hind it. A trial that could re­open old wounds would be the last thing they want.

Ger­many would be an­other pos­si­bil­ity, but in the past, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has been ex­tremely re­luc­tant to put on trial war crim­i­nals not of Ger­man na­tion­al­ity. Poland, where most of Dem­jan­juk’s al­leged crimes oc­curred, has been run­ning an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into his past for the last few years, but has un­cov­ered lit­tle and is not ex­pected to ini­ti­ate a trial. Is­rael could fea­si­bly pros­e­cute Dem­jan­juk but is ex­tremely un­likely to pro­duce a re-run of the first Dem­jan­juk trial.

“He is a Ukrainian cit­i­zen,” said Efraim Zuroff, head of the Jerusalem Si­mon Wiesen­thal Cen­tre, “and we will pres­sure the gov­ern­ment there to re­quest his ex­tra­di­tion. One thing Is­rael could do would be to make its own re­quest, forc­ing Ukraine also to act since Is­rael has the death penalty for Nazi war crim­i­nals and Ukraine has not.”

If no coun­try re­quests his ex­tra­di­tion, Dem­jan­juk could re­main in Ohio, state­less and with­out so­cial se­cu­rity, but sup­ported by the lo­cal Ukrainian com­mu­nity.

Dem­jan­juk: may be de­ported

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