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Trial of suspected Nazi guard Demjanjuk to begin in November

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Trial of suspected Nazi guard Demjanjuk to begin in November
Demjanjuk being loaded into a prison ambulance in Munich. Photo: DPA
11:42 CEST+02:00
The trial of John Demjanjuk, accused of assisting in the murder of 27,900 Jews in a Nazi death camp, will begin on November 30 in the southern German city of Munich, the court said Thursday.

In what is likely to be one of the last major Nazi war-crimes trials in Germany, Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk, 89, will be judged over 35 days, with the last trial day on May 6, 2010, the court said in a statement.

Demjanjuk, who is in custody in a Munich prison, is only fit enough to withstand two sessions per day of not more than 90 minutes each, according to medical experts.

Prosecutors have charged Demjanjuk, who was deported from the United States in May, with being a guard at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1943 where hundreds of thousands of Jews were herded to the gas chambers.

Courts in Israel and the United States have previously stated he was a guard at Sobibor, accusations he had never previously challenged, but one of his lawyers in May denied he was ever there.

Prosecutors have an SS identity card with a photograph of a young man said to be Demjanjuk and written transcripts of witness testimony placing him at the camp.

Demjanjuk's family insists he is innocent and that he is too ill to stand trial. In a recent statement, his son, also called John, said: "They want a media show trial, not justice, as there is not a scintilla of evidence that he ever harmed even one person during the war."

Demjanjuk is number three on the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's list of most wanted war criminals behind two others believed to be dead.

He was sentenced to death by an Israeli court two decades ago after he was convicted of being the feared death camp guard "Ivan the Terrible" who would hack at naked prisoners with a sword and inflict cruel and sadistic punishments on them.

That ruling was overturned in 1993 when statements from other guards identified another man as "Ivan the Terrible."

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