Germany court rules accused Nazi guard can be tried as accessory to murder

[JURIST] A German court ruled Friday that alleged Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk [NNDB profile; JURIST news archive] can stand trial on accessory to murder charges that took place during World War II. The Munich Regional Court said that it would hear the case and ordered that Demjanjuk remain in custody despite pleas by his friends and family that he is too old and sick to face trial. The ruling follows an earlier determination by German prison medical experts that Demjanjuk is fit to stand trial [DPA report]. Demjanjuk faces 27,900 accessory counts stemming from his alleged involvement as a guard at the Sobibor [Death Camps backgrounder] concentration camp where more than 260,000 people were executed in gas chambers. The former Ohio resident was deported in May by the US after exhausting his appeals for a stay and having his objections to extradition rejected [JURIST reports] by a German court. The court did not set an exact date for the start of the trial, but it indicated [Bloomberg report] it is likely to be in November.

Similar proceedings are currently taking place in Spain. Last month, Spanish judge Ismael Moreno issued arrest warrants [JURIST report] for US residents Johann Leprich and Anton Tittjung and Austrian resident Josias Kumpf who are accused of being former Nazi guards. The three allegedly participated in the torture and disappearance [El Pais report, in Spanish] of more than 4,300 Spaniards at the Mauthausen, Sachsenhausen and Flossenburg concentration camps. A Spanish prosecutor had asked in May that arrest warrants be issued [JURIST report] under Spain's universal jurisdiction [AI backgrounder] doctrine, which gives Spain jurisdiction over foreign torture, terrorism, and war crimes only if the case is not subject to the legal system of the country involved. The prosecutor did not seek a warrant for Demjanjuk who is considered a fourth suspect in that case. The suit was initiated in June 2008 by rights group Equipo Nizkor [advocacy website], which petitioned [press release, in Spanish] Spain's National Court to press charges against the four accused guards.

 

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