A German court on Thursday denied a motion to dismiss charges against alleged Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk [NNDB profile, JURIST news archive]. In a series of motions, Demjanjuk's lawyer asserted that the charges should be dismissed due to lack of credible evidence. The court rejected the argument, saying they found the evidence against Demjanjuk to be strong. The court did, however, indicate that they wanted to hear evidence from additional sources [AP report] before deciding on the credibility of witness statements already presented. Demjanjuk's trial marks the first time a Nazi war crimes trial is focusing 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. Demjanjuk's trial began [JURIST report] in November, but the hearings have been limited to no more than two-90 minute sessions per day in deference to his health. The trial has been on hold for three days as Demjanjuk recieved medical treatment for chest pains.
The Holocaust continues to affect today's legal world. On Tuesday, the US Department of Justice [official website] announced that the Philadelphia Immigration Court [official website] had ordered the deportation [JURIST report] of former SS guard Anton Geiser to Austria for serving as an armed guard at the Sachsenhausen and the Buchenwald concentration camps during World War II. Last month, the Regensburg District Court in southern Germany convicted British Bishop Richard Williamson [JURIST report] of incitement for denying the Holocaust and ordered him to pay a 10,000 euro fine. In March, a German court sentenced [JURIST report] former Nazi SS member Heinrich Boere to life in prison for the 1944 murders of three Dutch civilians. In August, a German district court sentenced [JURIST report] former Nazi army officer Josef Scheungraber to life in prison for the 1944 reprisal killing of 10 Italian civilians. Scheungraber was convicted on 10 counts of murder and one count of attempted murder for ordering soldiers to blow up a barn in Falzano di Cortona, Tuscany, after forcing 11 civilians inside.