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Accused Nazi Demjanjuk deported from US to Germany

SUSPECTED Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk was deported from the United States yesterday, flown from Ohio to Germany where he faces trial in the deaths of 29,000 Jews.

A chartered jet carrying the 89-year-old Ukraine-born Demjanjuk took off from Cleveland's Burke lakefront airport at 7:13pm EDT/2313 GMT for an overnight flight to Munich.

For the man once wrongly accused of being the sadistic death camp guard "Ivan the Terrible" it was the latest and perhaps final chapter in a tale spanning nearly 70 years and touching three continents.

An airport official said Demjanjuk showed no emotion and said nothing as he was put on the plane seated in a medical transport chair.
He was taken from his home near Cleveland earlier by an ambulance, shielded from cameras by a bedsheet and driven to an immigration office in downtown Cleveland.

Demjanjuk, listed by the Simon Wiesenthal Center as No. 1 on its list of "Most Wanted Nazi War Criminals," had been told last week to surrender for deportation.

An earlier effort to remove him forcibly took place on April 14, but he was returned home later that day after a court intervened. Last week, however, the US Supreme Court refused to reinstate a stay preventing him from being deported.

"I'm sorry that it took so long," Avner Shalev, chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, told Reuters. "At last we have a minor bit of justice with regard to Demjanjuk. Let's look forward to him having a just trial in Germany. It symbolizes that the world is still aware and we cannot set it aside."

Demjanjuk has spinal problems, kidney failure, anemia, is very weak and needs help to stand up or move about, according to court filings that claimed he was too ill to be moved.

But US government Nazi hunters filed with the courts a recent video purporting to show Demjanjuk walking around under his own power.


His son John Demjanjuk Jr told Reuters in an e-mail that long-term legal appeals would be pursued in the United States even without him in the country.

"Given the history of this case and not a shred of evidence that he ever hurt one person let alone murdered anyone anywhere, this is inhuman ..." he said. "This is a vendetta in the falsified name of justice with the hope that somehow Germany will atone for its past."

The elder Demjanjuk will face charges in Munich, where prosecutors have accused him of being an accessory in killings during 1943 at Sobibor death camp, an area in Poland then occupied by Nazi Germany.

He was sentenced to death in Israel in 1988, accused of being a sadistic guard "Ivan" at Treblinka where 870,000 died. That country's highest court later ruled he was not "Ivan," but US officials then stripped him of his citizenship, saying that he had worked at three other camps and hid that information when he entered the United States in 1952.

He has denied any role in the Holocaust, saying he was drafted into the Russian army in 1941, became a German prisoner of war a year later and was in German prison camps until 1944.

He was first stripped of his US citizenship in 1981 when he was extradited to Israel for trial as "Ivan" but returned to his home near Cleveland in 1993 when he was exonerated. His citizenship was restored in 1998.

It was revoked again in 2002 after US Justice Department said he had worked at other German prison camps. He was ordered deported in December 2006, but remained in the country through legal challenges and no demands from other countries that he be sent to them.

Last year, Germany's chief Nazi war crimes investigator, Kurt Schrimm, asked prosecutors in Munich, where Demjanjuk lived before he emigrated to the United States, to charge him with involvement in the murder of 29,000 Jews.

Schrimm said his office had evidence Demjanjuk had been a guard at Sobibor and personally led Jews to the gas chambers.

In March, Munich prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Demjanjuk and asked the United States to deport him to stand trial.


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