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No live eyewitnesses left for Nazi guard trial

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No live eyewitnesses left for Nazi guard trial
Demjanjuk's ID card from 1948. Photo: DPA
10:29 CET+01:00
The trial of alleged mass murderer John Demjanjuk, due to start on November 30 in Munich, will take place without any eyewitnesses, it emerged this weekend.

Weekly magazine Focus reported that although 23 witnesses had been named, and five from Russia and Ukraine had been expected, they are long-dead.

Demjanjuk is accused of assisting in 27,900 murders during his time as a guard in the Sobibor concentration camp in what was then Poland, during 1943.

His defence lawyer Günther Maull told the magazine witness statements had been produced, but added, “The men were questioned 30 years ago – at least in part in the Soviet Union and possibly under pressure. Whether their statements have any value as evidence is questionable.”

Demjanjuk emigrated to the USA after the end of the war, and fought extradition to Germany. His family argued that his ill health should preclude a trial.

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

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

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