[JURIST] The trial of alleged Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk [NNDB profile, JURIST news archive] began in Germany on Monday. It marks the first time a Nazi war crimes trial will focus on a low-ranking foreigner rather than a commander. The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk faces 27,900 accessory accounts stemming from his alleged involvement as a guard at Sobibor [Death Camps backgrounder] concentration camp. It is alleged that he volunteered to work at Sobibor [Abendzeitung report, in German] after being captured by German forces while serving as a member of the Soviet army. Multiple appeals were filed in regards to Demjanjuk's health, but he was found fit to stand trial and his appeals were rejected [JURIST reports] in October, paving the way for the trial to begin. The court is limiting the hearings to no more than two-90 minute sessions per day and is monitoring Demjanjuk's health. The trial is expected to last until May.
Demjanjuk's trial has been described [Spiegel report] as the last major Nazi war crimes trial to be held in Germany, but earlier this month German prosecutors charged [JURIST report] an unidentified 90-year-old German with 58 counts of murder stemming from his involvement with the Nazi party during World War II. A similar case is pending in the Spanish courts after the German appeals court in September permitted the case against three men alleged to be former Nazi guards to continue [JURIST report] in Spain.