Accused Nazi Demjanjuk's Trial to Start in October

Munich court prepares for an October start to John Demjanjuk's trial.

Julu 21, 2009 — -- A district court in Munich is preparing for the planned October start of what could be the final Nazi war crimes trial in Germany. The leading judge in the case has already approved eight joint plaintiffs, and prosecutors have secured 22 witnesses they hope will prove John Demjanjuk's guilt.

Following a lengthy deportation process to bring him back to Germany from the United States, Nazi war crimes suspect John Demjanjuk's case is expected to go to trial in mid-October. The 89-year-old, who stands accused of being an accessory to 27,900 counts of murder at Nazi death camps, will be tried before a Munich district court.

A large contingent of prosecutors and witnesses are set to take part in the trial. The judge presiding over the jury court, Ralph Alt, has already approved eight joint plaintiffs, whose families or relations were killed between April and July 1943 at the Sobibór concentration camp. Public prosecutors claim Demjanjuk, born in Ukraine, was a guard there during that time.

The joint plaintiffs, who will be represented by five attorneys, are from the Netherlands, the US and Germany. Some of them experienced the atrocities of the death camps firsthand as young men.

With the help of 22 witnesses, the prosecution is aiming to prove that Demjanjuk is guilty of being an accessory to murder in at least 27,900 killings at the camp. The exhaustive 86-page document detailing the charges challenges the defense's argument that, as a Nazi prisoner of war, the defendant had no choice but to comply with orders.

The prosecution maintains that Demjanjuk, who has so far remained silent in the face of allegations made against him, was in a position to have fled the camps. It has compiled a list of cases in which foreign Nazi henchmen were able to escape from camps in Trawniki, Lublin, Treblinka and even Sobibór.