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CRIME

Demjanjuk’s SS identity card was forged, his lawyer says

The lawyer of alleged Nazi camp guard John Demjanjuk called Wednesday for his German trial to be scrapped after new FBI documents emerged calling into question a vital piece of evidence.

Demjanjuk's SS identity card was forged, his lawyer says
Photo: DPA

Ulrich Busch said the Federal Bureau of Investigation had said in a 1985 report that an SS identity card alleged to be Demjanjuk’s was “quite likely fabricated” by the Soviet Union.

“We have always maintained that the ID card was a forgery. Now we have a report from the FBI,” Busch said.

He said he was in possession of the report and had applied to the court in Munich, southern Germany, to suspend the 91-year-old’s trial to travel to the United States to look in the archives for more information.

However, he was pessimistic as to his chances of getting the court to agree to his request.

“The court has long since made up its mind,” he said.

The identity card is vital to the prosecution’s case as there are no living witnesses able to prove the charge that Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk was a guard at the Sobibor death camp in 1943.

Demjanjuk is charged with helping to murder 27,900 Jews and others during his alleged six-month stint at the camp where the Nazi death machine killed around a quarter of a million people.

Prosecutors have called for him to spend six years behind bars for his alleged actions in what is quite likely to be the last major trial dealing with the crimes committed in World War II.

A verdict could come as soon as May 12, although this has repeatedly been delayed due mainly to the defendant’s health.

AFP/ka

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CRIME

101-year-old former Nazi guard pleads innocent in German trial

A 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard on Monday once again denied being complicit in war crimes during the Holocaust as his trial drew to a close in Germany.

101-year-old former Nazi guard pleads innocent in German trial

Josef Schütz, the oldest person so far to face trial over Nazi crimes during World War II, is accused of involvement in the murders of 3,518 prisoners at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945.

The pensioner, who now lives in Brandenburg state, has pleaded innocent throughout the trial, saying he did “absolutely nothing” and was not aware of the gruesome crimes being carried out at the camp.

“I don’t know why I am here,” he said again at the close of the proceedings, his voice wavering.

Dressed in a grey shirt and pyjama bottoms and sitting in a wheelchair, Schütz insisted he had had nothing to do with the atrocities and was “telling the truth”.

READ ALSO: Ex-Nazi death camp secretary who fled trial to face court in Germany

Prosecutors say he “knowingly and willingly” participated in the crimes as a guard at the camp and are seeking to punish him with five years behind bars.

But Schütz’s lawyer, Stefan Waterkamp, said that since there were no photographs of him wearing an SS uniform, the case was based on “hints” of his possible involvement.

“As early as 1973, investigators had information about him but did not pursue him. At the time, witnesses could have been heard but now they are all dead or no longer able to speak,” Waterkamp said.

Former Nazi guard

The 101-year-old former Nazi guard covers his face at the Neuruppin courthouse. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

It would be a mistake for the court to try to “make up for the mistakes of a previous generation of judges”, the lawyer said.

Antoine Grumbach, 80, whose father died in Sachsenhausen, told AFP Schuetz “does not want to remember”, calling it “a form of defence”.

The trial was not just about “putting a centenarian in prison”, he said. It had also produced evidence that Sachsenhausen was an “experimental extermination camp”.

“All the cruellest methods were invented there and then exported,” Grumbach said.

READ ALSO: Trials of aging Nazis a ‘reminder for the present’, says German prosecutor

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