Gov´t: Nothing new in Demjanjuk citizenship case (AP) Associated Press) By THOMAS J. SHEERAN CLEVELAND, Ohio 04/13/12)
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CLEVELAND (AP) ó A recently deceased Ohio autoworker convicted of
Nazi war crimes should have his U.S. citizenship restored because the
American government withheld potentially helpful material, his
The defense team for John Demjanjuk, who died March 17 in Germany at
age 91, asked the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to
restore his citizenship or order a hearing on the case.
The filing late Thursday night said U.S. District Judge Dan Polster
in Cleveland erred last year in refusing to reopen the citizenship
case at Demjanjuk´s request.
Demjanjuk, who lived for decades in Seven Hills in suburban
Cleveland, was convicted by a Munich court in May on 28,060 counts of
being an accessory to murder at the Sobibor death camp in occupied
Poland. The Ukrainian-born man maintained that he had been mistaken
for someone else; he died while his conviction was under appeal.
A political leader in the Ukraine told The Associated Press that
Demjanjuk´s body was returned to the U.S. for burial. Rostislav
Novozhenets, deputy head of the nationalist Ukrainian Republican
Party, said in a telephone interview that Demjanjuk was buried March
31 at an undisclosed location. Family members living nearby will care
for the gravesite, Novozhenets said.
Dennis Terez, a public defender representing Demjanjuk, said Friday
he couldn´t comment on where Demjanjuk was buried.
Prosecutors have until next month to file a response to the
citizenship issue, Terez said. The defense will then get a chance to
The government rejected the defense´s arguments.
"In a reasoned and meticulously supported decision, Judge Polster
rejected these same contentions by Mr. Demjanjuk´s lawyers,"
spokesman Mike Tobin, of the U.S. attorney´s office in Cleveland,
said in an email.
"While the department continues to litigate this matter in court, the
latest filing contains no new information on this decades-long
David Leopold, an immigration attorney in Cleveland, said he had
never seen citizenship restored posthumously in a war crimes case. He
said there is sufficient evidence against Demjanjuk for the appeals
court to reject the latest bid.
According to the defense filing, Polster violated basic fairness by
ruling against Demjanjuk´s citizenship appeal without holding a
hearing on a newly discovered document.
The document, a 1985 secret FBI report uncovered by The Associated
Press, indicates the FBI believed a Nazi ID card purportedly showing
that Demjanjuk served as a death camp guard was a Soviet-made fake.
"Anything that would cast doubt onto the legitimacy of the
government´s case against a naturalized citizen should be highly
relevant and material," the defense filing said.
The government responded to the document with an Oct. 12 affidavit
from retired FBI agent Thomas Martin, who said the 1985 report
written by him was based on speculation, not any investigation.
He said he had based his speculation, in part, on his understanding
that the Soviet secret police "had a longstanding program designed to
target dissidents living overseas, for the purpose of intimidation,
threat or actual assassination."
While concerned the Nazi ID card could be a Soviet fake, Martin said
in the affidavit, "I reached no conclusions about its authenticity."
But such affidavits should not be allowed to go unchallenged, the
defense said. The judge "did not even see all of the withheld
materials," the filing said.
The filing said it would be unusual for an FBI agent to submit a
report to Washington headquarters based only on conjecture, as
portrayed by federal prosecutors.
The filing also said the citizenship case could bear on unresolved
legal issues in Germany, including whether German courts had
jurisdiction, and noted that Demjanjuk´s death came before his appeal
was heard, raising a question of finality.
Demjanjuk was tried, convicted and sentenced to death in Israel as
the notoriously brutal guard "Ivan the Terrible" at the Treblinka
extermination camp. The Israeli Supreme Court unanimously overturned
the conviction after Israel received evidence that another Ukrainian,
not Demjanjuk, was that Nazi guard.
When they overturned his conviction in Israel, the supreme court
judges there said they still believed Demjanjuk had served the Nazis,
probably at the Trawniki SS training camp and Sobibor. But they
declined to order a new trial, saying there was a risk of violating
the law prohibiting trying someone twice on the same evidence.
___Associated Press stringer Svetlana Fedas in Lviv, Ukraine,
contributed to this report. (© 2012 The Associated Press 04/13/12)
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