Published May 06, 2009
CLEVELAND – John Demjanjuk, branded by the U.S. government a Nazi death camp guard, on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to stop his deportation to Germany, where an arrest warrant accuses him of 29,000 counts of accessory to murder during World War II.
A federal appeals court in Ohio has cleared the way for deporting him. The 89-year-old retired autoworker, his family and his lawyer say he's in poor health and too frail to be sent overseas.
The Supreme Court didn't say when or if it would rule. The appeal goes first to Justice John Paul Stevens, who can decide the request on his own or refer it to the full court.
The arrest warrant in Germany accuses Demjanjuk of being a guard at the Sobibor camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1943. Demjanjuk, a native Ukrainian, maintains he was a prisoner of war, not a camp guard. Evidence the U.S. government has used against him includes a Nazi document, an identification card placing him at a training camp and then at various death or forced-labor camps, including Sobibor.
A German court on Wednesday rejected an attempt to block his deportation, saying the issue would have to be decided by American courts.
The U.S. Department of Justice would "respond in court as appropriate," spokeswoman Laura Sweeney said Wednesday.
Demjanjuk remains in his home in the Cleveland suburb Seven Hills. On April 14, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers entered his home, placed him in a wheelchair and carried him outside to a waiting van.
He was taken to a holding area at immigration enforcement offices in Cleveland and was there a few hours until the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati granted an emergency stay. The court considered his case before ending that stay and refusing to issue another Friday.