‘Ivan the Terrible’ Nazi guard attempts to block extradition

A Nazi death camp guard facing charges of assisting in the murder of at least 29,000 Jews has filed an appeal to avoid extradition to Germany, arguing the move would be tantamount to torture, his US lawyer said.

'Ivan the Terrible' Nazi guard attempts to block extradition
Photo: DPA

John Demjanjuk, who turns 89 on Friday, was due to be flown Sunday from the US city of Cleveland, where he lives, to Germany, which seeks to try him for the alleged murders.

Demjanjuk, one of the world’s top Nazi war crime suspects, was to be arrested upon his arrival Monday and either taken straight to prison or to a prison hospital, after Demjanjuk’s bid to convince US officials to block his extradition on the grounds of poor health failed, his lawyer Günter Maull said in Germany.

But his attorney in Washington said he filed a last-minute emergency motion for a stay of expulsion with a US immigration court Thursday, a day after filing a petition for an administrative stay with the Department of Homeland Security.

“The grounds are that in light of his deteriorated health and the German government’s apparent intention to arrest and put him in jail… the anguish and pain that he’ll suffer from arrest and incarceration and trial in Germany will amount to torture under the convention against torture,” John Broadley told AFP.

“He is a very old man,” said Broadley, who would not confirm that Demjanjuk was due to be expelled Sunday. “So far nobody has notified us about any definite plan to take any action” to extradite his client.

For its part, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) said it “is working closely with the government of Germany to secure Demjanjuk’s removal from the United States,” according to spokeswoman Laura Sweeney.

“Unfortunately, the DOJ doesn’t confirm information regarding removals unless and until an individual is on the soil of the country to which he/she has been removed.”

The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk – who changed his name from Ivan to John when he moved to the United States in 1952 – was ranked number two on the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s 2008 “most wanted” Nazi criminal list, behind Aribert Heim, nicknamed “Doctor Death,” who according to a recent investigation died in 1992.

German prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Demjanjuk in March, accusing him of serving for six months in 1943 at the Sobibor death camp in occupied Poland.

The US Office for Special Investigations (OSI) described Sobibor as “as close an approximation of Hell as has ever been created on this planet.”

The extradition and the attempt to block it mark the latest episode in Demjanjuk’s nearly 30-year cat-and-mouse game with justice.

He was sentenced to death in 1988 in an Israeli court, suspected of being the infamous and sadistic concentration camp guard “Ivan the Terrible.”

The sentence was overturned five years later by Israel’s Supreme Court after statements from former guards identified another man as “Ivan the Terrible.”

Demjanjuk is in poor health and suffering from a form of leukaemia, his German lawyer said.

“We now only want to die in peace,” his wife Vera told mass circulation daily Bild in a recent interview.


Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

A driver in Passau has been hit with a €5,000 fine because he was caught by traffic police giving the middle finger.

Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

The district court of Passau sentenced the 53-year-old motorist to the fine after he was caught making the rude gesture in the direction of the speedometer last August on the A3 near the Donautal Ost service area, reported German media. 

The man was not caught speeding, however. According to traffic police who were in the speed camera vehicle at the time, another driver who had overtaken the 53-year-old was over the speed limit. 

When analysing the photo, the officers discovered the slower driver’s middle finger gesture and filed a criminal complaint.

The driver initially filed an objection against a penalty order, and the case dragged on for several months. However, he then accepted the complaint. He was sentenced to 50 ‘unit fines’ of €100 on two counts of insulting behaviour, amounting to €5,000.

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In a letter to police, the man said he regretted the incident and apologised. 

Police said it was “not a petty offence”, and that the sentence could have been “even more drastic”.

People who give insults while driving can face a prison sentences of up to a year.

“Depending on the nature and manner of the incident or in the case of persons with a previous conviction, even a custodial sentence without parole may be considered for an insult,” police in Passau said. 

What does the law say?

Showing the middle finger to another road user in road traffic is an offence in Germany under Section 185 of the Criminal Code (StGB). It’s punishable by a prison sentence of up to one year or a fine.

People can file a complaint if someone shows them the middle finger in road traffic, but it usually only has a chance of success if witnesses can prove that it happened.

As well as the middle finger, it can also be an offence to verbally insult someone. 

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