Accused Nazi mass murderer John Demjanjuk should not be on trial in Germany because the death camp where he was allegedly a guard was in Poland, his lawyer claimed today.
In a closing speech for Demjanjuk, who faces 28,060 counts of accessory to murder the Sobibor camp, Ulrich Busch declared: “I call for the immediate release of my client who has been detained for two years on an illegal and unconstitutional basis.”
Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk, now 91, was a young Soviet army soldier when he was captured in Crimea in 1942 by the Nazis during the second World War.
Prosecutors say he agreed to serve as a guard and trained at the SS Trawniki camp in Poland before being sent to Sobibor.
But Demjanjuk says he was held prisoner for most of the rest of the war and never served as a guard in any camp.
His lawyer asked the Munich court not to consider evidence gathered by the Soviet Union’s investigators because it is likely to be biased.
In addition, Mr Busch claimed that documents and witness accounts from Trawniki on Demjanjuk differed so widely that there must have been about six different Demjanjuks – opening up the possibility that he could be a victim of mistaken identity.
But a lawyer for families of Sobibor victims who have joined the trial as co-plaintiffs, as permitted under German law, said there was no doubt on Demjanjuk’s identity.
“Of course there are always contradictions in testimonies, but documents don’t lie,” Martin Mendelsohn said outside the court.
Demjanjuk’s trial opened in November 2009, months after the retired Ohio car worker was deported from the United States.