BERLIN – Germany's top Nazi hunter on Monday asked Munich prosecutors to request the extradition of an 88-year-old Ohio man accused of bearing responsibility for the deaths of 29,000 Jews at a concentration camp in Poland.
Kurt Schrimm, head of the special German prosecutors' office that has hunted Nazis since 1958, said he believes transport lists of prisoners that arrived at Sobibor during John Demjanjuk's seven-month tenure at the camp can be used as evidence of his alleged involvement in their deaths.
"We believe that it's enough," Schrimm said. "We believe that we will get a trial."
Munich prosecutors were asked to file the extradition request because Demjanjuk lived there briefly after the war.
Demjanjuk, a retired autoworker who emigrated to the United States in 1952, denies involvement in war crimes, saying he served in the Soviet army and became a prisoner of war when he was captured by Germany in 1942.
A native of Ukraine who settled in suburban Cleveland, Demjanjuk was extradited to Israel in 1986, when the U.S. Justice Department believed he was the sadistic Nazi guard known as Ivan the Terrible at the Treblinka death camp.
He spent seven years in custody before the Israeli high court freed him after receiving evidence that another Ukrainian, not Demjanjuk, was that Nazi guard.
Demjanjuk's son, John Demjanjuk Jr., said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that his father is in very poor health and could not defend himself at another foreign trial.
"Given the history of his criminal trial and acquittal in Israel and his failing health, trying him again is not about justice, it is about self-serving headlines for Schrimm and his office."
The Munich prosecutors' spokesman, Christian Schmidt-Sommerfeld, said it could take days to process Schrimm's request. If Munich declines the case, he will appeal to Germany's highest federal court.
"The Justice Department looks forward to the outcome the German prosecutors' review of this matter," said Laura Sweeney, a U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman.
In 1993, Israel's Supreme Court ruled that Demjanjuk was not "Ivan the Terrible," leading to his release from prison. But when he returned to the United States, the Justice Department again sought to revoke his citizenship, alleging that he had been a guard at Nazi death and forced-labor camps.
A December 2005 ruling determined that he could be deported to his native Ukraine or to Germany or Poland, but Demjanjuk spent several years challenging that ruling.
On May 19, the U.S. Supreme Court chose not to consider Demjanjuk's appeal against deportation, clearing the way for the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations, which oversees cases against former Nazis, to start proceedings.
Though Demjanjuk acknowledged in his immigration application that that he had been a "worker" in Sobibor, German prosecutors hope to use the transport lists to link him to the deaths.
It was not immediately clear, however, precisely what the lists show and how the links are to be made.
Efraim Zuroff, the top Nazi hunter at Israel's Simon Wiesenthal Center, said he, too, has evidence of Demjanjuk's involvement at the Sobibor camp, and hopes Munich will agree to file an extradition request.
"The main question is whether Germany will seek extradition," Zuroff said. "It's a question now of political will."
Demjanjuk is No. 2 on the center's "most wanted" list of Nazi war criminals — below only the brutal SS doctor Aribert Heim, whose whereabouts are unknown.