Published April 10, 2009
CLEVELAND – An immigration appeals board ruled Friday that retired autoworker John Demjanjuk can be deported to Germany to face charges that he served as a Nazi death camp guard during World War II.
Demjanjuk's son, John Demjanjuk Jr., said the family would appeal to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court closed Friday without receiving a filing of appeal.
The board's denial of an emergency stay of deportation makes it more likely Demjanjuk will soon be sent to face an arrest warrant claiming he was an accessory to some 29,000 deaths at the Sobibor camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1943. Once in Germany, he could be formally charged in court.
A German lawyer on Thursday appealed Demjanjuk's pending arrest and requested that Munich prosecutors provide a copy of the arrest warrant and other documents so he can substantiate the details of the appeal. No action was expected before Tuesday.
Demjanjuk (pronounced dem-YAHN'-yuk), a native Ukrainian, has denied involvement in any deaths, saying that he was a Russian soldier who was a prisoner of war, held by the Germans. He came to the United States after World War II as a refugee.
The 89-year-old Demjanjuk remained at his home near Cleveland on Friday afternoon. He had filed the U.S. motion to the immigration board in Falls Church, Va., saying that he is in poor health and that being forced to travel to Germany would amount to torture.
He also asked the board to reopen the U.S. case that ordered him deported. The board had not yet ruled on that request.
The U.S. Department of Justice opposed his motions.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Pat Reilly would say only that officials would "remove him when the time is appropriate," but she referred all other questions to the Department of Justice.
Eli Rosenbaum, director of the Justice Department's special investigations unit, had no comment. Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney said any response would come in court filings.
A phone message left with Demjanjuk's U.S. attorney, John Broadley, was not immediately returned.
Demjanjuk Jr. arrived at his parent's house in Seven Hills late Friday morning, parked and entered without acknowledging members of the media who had gathered outside. After a short stay, he came out to his car and left, again without comment.
Demjanjuk has said he suffers severe spinal, hip and leg pain and has a bone marrow disorder, kidney disease, anemia, kidney stones, arthritis, gout and spinal deterioration.
In the German appeal, Busch said Demjanjuk is not fit for arrest, travel or trial due to post-traumatic stress disorder and serious illnesses, and that a trial could shorten his life because he has a kidney tumor that requires immediate chemotherapy.
He said Demjanjuk's pain is so severe that it would impair his alertness and ability to concentrate on his defense.
Demjanjuk had been told to expect deportation last Sunday, but it was blocked by an immigration judge's stay that expired Wednesday.
He first gained U.S. citizenship in 1958. It was revoked in 1981 based on Justice Department allegations that he had served as the notorious Nazi guard "Ivan the Terrible" in Poland at the Treblinka death camp.
He was extradited to Israel in 1986, and two years later he was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He appealed, and Israel's Supreme Court in 1993 ruled that evidence indicated that Demjanjuk was not Ivan the Terrible and allowed him to return to the United States.
His U.S. citizenship was restored in 1998 but revoked again in 2002. The Justice Department renewed its case, arguing that he had served at Sobibor and other death or forced labor camps. It no longer alleges he was Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka.
In 2005, an immigration judge ruled he could be deported to Ukraine, Poland or Germany.