Demjanjuk's Alleged SS ID Re-Examined

Munich court re-examines Nazi war crimes suspect's alleged SS ID.

September 15, 2009 — -- Munich's Higher Regional Court on Monday re-examined John Demjanjuk's SS identification papers -- key evidence in the upcoming trial against the man accused of having served as a Nazi guard and helping to herd tens of thousands of Jews to their deaths in World War II.

On Monday, the judges, prosecutors and defense examined the documents -- although the court said no public statement would be made about the findings.

The documents is question are SS identification papers that include information about his transfer from the Trawniki concentration camp to the Sobibor death camp, where he is accused of having aided in the murder of at least 27,000 Jews.

A historian with the United States Office of Special Investigations (OSI) delivered the documents, which had been held in a safe at the Justice Department in Washington. The documents were examined by specialists from the Bavarian state criminal office in February, but the inspection was said to not be thorough enough to eliminate the possibility of doubts about their authenticity.

Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian who moved to the United States after World War II, was convicted by an Israeli court of crimes at the Treblinka concentration camp in the present-day eastern Poland in 1988, but was acquitted in 1993 after doubts arose as to whether he had actually served there.

New documents have surfaced over the past year, which appear to place Demjanjuk at Sobibor -- another concentration camp in present-day Poland -- at the height of the Holocaust.

Demjanjuk Awaiting Trial

In March, the Bavarian state public prosecutor's office issued a warrant for Demjanjuk's arrest following a 2005 ruling by a US immigration judge that he could be deported to Germany, Poland or Ukraine.

Demjanjuk long fought being sent to Germany for trial, and in April a U.S. appeals court issued a temporary stay based on the pensioner's poor health, despite criticism in Germany that age and health should not stop justice.

In May, the alleged criminal eventually landed in Germany and was put in remand inside the medical facility of a Munich prison, where he is currently awaiting trial. Several expert opinions have concluded that Demjanjuk is fit to be kept in prison and capable of going to trial to a limited extent.

Appeal to Release Demjanjuk Denied

An appeal by his consulting attorney, Ulrich Busch, to release Demjanjuk because of his health, was recently overruled and his trial is due to begin in November. Busch is now considering appealing the case to the Federal Constitutional Court, Germany's highest. But an appeal would unlikely slow down the start of his trial.

Demjanjuk has refuted the charges from the outset. He insists that he never worked for the Germans as a guard at a death camp and he is expected to maintain his silence in court.

"My client will not admit to the charges," Busch said.