Published May 04, 2011
MUNICH – John Demjanjuk's attorney argued Wednesday for his client's acquittal on 28,060 counts of accessory to murder, saying he never served as a Nazi guard and was a victim himself of both the Soviet regime and the Germans.
Ulrich Busch said in his second day of closing remarks that Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk had suffered under the Soviet regime of Josef Stalin before he was captured while serving with the Red Army and then imprisoned by the Nazis.
The 91-year-old is accused of agreeing to serve as a death camp guard after he was captured.
Prosecutors have called for a conviction and six-year prison sentence, saying the evidence shows he trained at the Trawniki SS camp and then served as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in occupied Poland.
Busch underlined that in some 30 years of legal proceedings, Demjanjuk has always maintained his innocence.
"Was John Demjanjuk in Sobibor?" Busch asked. "This question has always been asked and he has always replied that he was not in Sobibor, he was not in Treblinka, and he was not in Trawniki."
Demjanjuk had no reaction to the comments, lying in a bed as he has for much of the trial wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap pulled down low over his face.
A key piece of evidence that prosecution has presented is a Trawniki identity card, which has a photo of Demjanjuk on it and indicates he was sent from the training camp to Sobibor. Experts testified during the trial that they believed the card to be valid.
But Busch said the card is a forgery. He accused the court of not seeking more expert opinion on it and questioned why it had not searched for more evidence in the case.
He said there was clearly more to be found, citing an Associated Press report from last month that brought to light a 1985 FBI file which indicated the agency believed the Trawniki ID card was a Soviet-made fake.
Busch said there were also indications that more files on Demjanjuk were being kept in Russia, but that the court had rejected requests to search for them.
"What is this court scared of?" he asked.
The defense's closing remarks are scheduled to continue Thursday, and a verdict is expected next week.