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Ivan the Terrible suspect loses bid to stop extradition

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Ivan the Terrible suspect loses bid to stop extradition
Demjanjuk's Sobibor work card Photo: DPA
09:34 CEST+02:00
John Demjanjuk, the man alleged to be Nazi war criminal ‘Ivan the Terrible' heard on Friday night that his latest attempt to block extradition to Germany for trial had failed.

His family said they would keep fighting to keep him in the United States.

”We will continue to do everything possible to stop this inhumane action,” John Demjanjuk Jr. said in a statement.

“Due to his serious medical conditions, if he were to survive a deportation, there is zero chance he will be capable of enduring any legal process in Germany.”

Demjanjuk, who changed his name from Ivan to John after emigrating to the United States in 1952, was stripped of his US citizenship in 2002.

The former autoworker remained in his Seven Hills, Ohio home long after his appeals of that decision were exhausted because the United States could not find a country willing to accept the now-stateless alleged war criminal.

German prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for him last month, officially accusing him of complicity in murdering at least 29,000 Jews at the Sobibor death camp, where he allegedly worked between March and September 1943.

His lawyer won him a brief stay of deportation last week while immigration officials debated whether to reopen the Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk's ‘removal' case.

On Friday, the Board of Immigration Appeals denied his request for another deportation stay “because it does not appear they are going to grant the motion to reopen the case,” Susan Eastwood, a spokesperson in the Executive Office for Immigration Review, said.

The younger Demjanjuk said his family intended to contest the BIA decision at the federal court's Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Demjanjuk's family has also filed motions in Germany requesting that the government reconsider its extradition request and arrest warrant.

His lawyer has argued that his client is in poor health, and that jailing and trying him in Germany would cause him pain amounting to torture.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice declined to comment on Demjanjuk's latest appeal or indicate whether officials would attempt to extradite him before a decision is reached by the appeals court.

“Any response we may have will be in court,” spokeswoman Laura Sweeney said. “We can't comment on possible timing for any removal.”

Former wartime inmates of Nazi camps in occupied Poland identified Demjanjuk as the brutal Ukrainian prison guard ‘Ivan' during a 1977 US Justice Department investigation.

Demjanjuk was sentenced to death by an Israeli court in 1988, but his conviction was overturned five years later by Israel's Supreme Court after statements from other former guards identified another man as the sadistic ‘Ivan'.

While the court found ample evidence that Demjanjuk had been a volunteer guard at Sobibor, Regensburg and Flossenburg, it ruled that he could not be retried.

He was returned to the United States despite strenuous objections from Holocaust survivors and Jewish groups.

Demjanjuk regained his US citizenship, which had first been stripped in 1981, after an appeals court ruled in 1998 the government recklessly withheld exculpatory evidence.

The US government filed new charges a year later using fresh evidence showing he served as a guard in several concentration camps that surfaced following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Demjanjuk's son said the current case against his father was based upon the same flawed and false evidence that led to his acquittal in Israel.

“History will show that he was a victim of the Germans in 1942, a victim of Germany and the US Justice Department when he was extradited to Israel only to be acquitted, and now once again a victim of the Germans in 2009.”

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