World

Accused former Nazi Demjanjuk charged for stint as camp guard

German prosecutors said Wednesday they have charged U.S. resident John Demjanjuk with more than 29,000 counts of accessory to murder for his time as a guard at the Nazi Sobibor death camp in Poland in 1943.
John Demjanjuk, shown in 2005 in Cleveland has been charged in Germany with 29,000 counts of accessory to murder for his time as a guard at the Nazi Sobibor death camp in Poland. ((Mark Duncan/Associated Press))
German prosecutors said Wednesday they have charged U.S. resident John Demjanjuk with more than 29,000 counts of accessory to murder for his time as a guard at the Nazi Sobibor death camp in Poland in 1943.

"In this capacity, he participated in the accessory to murder of at least 29,000 people of the Jewish faith," Munich prosecutors said in a statement.

Prosecutors will seek the extradition of the retired Ohio auto worker from the United States. The 88-year-old, who lives in a Cleveland suburb, denies involvement.

U.S. authorities have been seeking to deport Demjanjuk.

Demjanjuk a Ukraine native

A native of Ukraine, Demjanjuk emigrated to the U.S. in 1952 and gained citizenship in 1958.

In denying involvement in war crimes, he has said he served in the Soviet army and became a prisoner of war when he was captured by Germany in 1942.

Demjanjuk was extradited to Israel in 1986, when the U.S. Justice Department believed he was the sadistic Nazi guard known as "Ivan the Terrible" from the Treblinka death camp.

He spent seven years in custody before the Israeli high court freed him after receiving evidence that another Ukrainian was that Nazi guard.

Demjanjuk's U.S. citizenship was restored in 1998, but the U.S. Justice Department renewed its case, saying he was another Nazi guard and could be deported for falsifying information on his entry and citizenship applications in the 1950s.

A December 2005 U.S. court ruling determined that he could be deported to his native Ukraine or to Germany or Poland, but Demjanjuk spent several years challenging that ruling.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court chose not to consider Demjanjuk's appeal against deportation, clearing the way for the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations, which oversees cases against former Nazis, to seek his removal from the United States.

But it was unclear which country would take him — his native Ukraine, Poland or Germany.

The Munich prosecutor's office, which is handling the case because Demjanjuk spent time at a refugee camp in the area after the war, said it was working on the extradition request with the German government.

The prosecutors said Demjanjuk will be formally charged before a judge once he is extradited to Germany.