Suspected concentration camp guard John Demjanjuk will go on trial on November 30 facing charges of helping to kill 27 900 Jews during World War Two, a German court said yesterday.
The trial of the 89-year-old retired US auto worker is likely to be Germany’s last major Nazi-era war crimes trial, though Demjanjuk’s lawyer told a newspaper he aimed to stop the process in a last-minute complaint to the country’s top court.
Ulrich Busch told Der Tagesspiegel newspaper he would file a complaint to the Federal Constitutional Court, arguing that Demjanjuk had already spent years in custody during a previous trial in Israel after he was extradited there in 1986.
“My client has served more than seven years in prison in Israel. A higher sentence is not to be expected now,” Busch said. “Because the Israeli custody must be factored in, the state’s right to impose punishment no longer applies.”
The case in a Munich court is set to run to May 6, 2010, although it could be extended if need be.
Demjanjuk, long wanted by the Simon Wiesenthal Center which hunts Nazi war crimes suspects, was deported from the United States in May and has been in detention near Munich ever since.
The Wiesenthal Center says Demjanjuk pushed men, women and children into gas chambers at the Sobibor death camp in what is now Poland.
Besides Munich state prosecutors, nine individuals are joint plaintiffs in the case all relatives of victims. Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk denies any role in the Holocaust and his family argues he is too frail to stand trial.
Demjanjuk was stripped of his US citizenship after he was accused in the 1970s of being “Ivan the Terrible,” a notoriously sadistic guard at the Treblinka death camp.
He was sentenced to death in Israel in 1988, but the Supreme Court later overturned his conviction when new evidence showed another man was probably “Ivan.”