German judge orders Demjanjuk to appear in court for the 2nd time despite alleged illness

MUNICH (AP) — John Demjanjuk must appear in court to face charges that he was a guard at the Sobibor death camp, a German judge ordered Monday despite the 90-year-old's health complaints.

The former Ohio autoworker was informed that he was being ordered to attend the trial, presiding judge Ralph Alt said. This is the second time the judge has ordered Demjanjuk to attend since the trial at the Munich state court opened last November.

Defense attorney Ulrich Busch protested the decision, saying his client was not fit to follow along and could barely hear what was being said in court.

Court doctor Albert Stein said Demjanjuk complained about having a very strong headache, but answered his questions "clearly and energetically."

Stein said, however, that Demjanjuk was suffering from low hemoglobin and would be brought to a Munich hospital later Monday for a blood transfusion.

Demjanjuk followed the session lying in blue pajamas on a hospital bed, as usual, wearing sunglasses and showing no reaction to the proceedings.

Demjanjuk, who was deported from the U.S. to Germany in May 2009, suffers several medical problems, but was declared fit enough to stand trial. About a dozen sessions have been canceled, however, due to health issues.

He is being tried on 28,060 counts of accessory to murder — charges that he denies. The defense maintains Demjanjuk was a Soviet soldier captured by the Germans and spent most of the war in prison camps himself.

The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk had his U.S. citizenship revoked in 1981 after the U.S. Justice Department alleged he hid his past as the notorious Treblinka guard "Ivan the Terrible." He was extradited to Israel, where he was found guilty and sentenced to death in 1988, only to have the conviction overturned five years later as a case of mistaken identity.


Associated Press Writer Juergen Baetz contributed to this report from Berlin.