German prison: Demjanjuk fit for prison
BERLIN — John Demjanjuk is fit enough to remain in custody at Germany’s Stadelheim prison, officials said Wednesday, but it still could take up to two weeks for Munich prosecutors to determine whether the 89-year-old is fit enough to stand trial.
Demjanjuk is being held on suspicion of acting as an accessory to the murder of 29,000 people as a Nazi guard at the Sobibor death camp.
If doctors at Stadelheim found Demjanjuk to be unwell, the retired Ohio autoworker could have been transferred to a hospital.
Anton Winkler, a spokesman for Munich prosecutors, said Demjanjuk “did fine” during his first night in prison and was doing well under the circumstances.
“There were no problems whatsoever,” Winkler said. “He is still fit enough to remain in custody.”
Demjanjuk arrived in Munich on a private jet Tuesday after being deported from the United States. A medical expert is going to observe him and make a recommendation on the trial, a process that could take up to two weeks.
“We are nowhere near that,” Winkler said.
Demjanjuk’s lawyer Guenther Maull filed a challenge against his client’s arrest warrant shortly after his arrival, arguing the evidence was not solid and Germany’s jurisdiction was questionable. The court is expected to rule on that in the coming days, Winkler said.
Demjanjuk says he was a Red Army soldier who spent World War II as a Nazi POW and never hurt anyone.
But Nazi-era documents obtained by U.S. justice authorities and shared with German prosecutors include a photo ID identifying Demjanjuk as a guard at the Sobibor death camp and saying he was trained at an SS facility for Nazi guards at Trawniki. Both sites were in Nazi-occupied Poland.
Efforts to prosecute Demjanjuk began in 1977 and have involved courts and government officials from at least five countries on three continents.
A U.S. judge revoked Demjanjuk’s citizenship in 2002 based on U.S. Justice Department evidence showing he concealed his service at Sobibor and other Nazi-run death and forced-labor camps.
A U.S. immigration judge ruled in 2005 he could be deported to Germany, Poland or Ukraine, and Munich prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for him in March.
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider Demjanjuk’s request to block deportation.
An Israeli court found Demjanjuk guilty in 1988 of war crimes and crimes against humanity but the conviction was overturned by the Israeli Supreme Court after new evidence emerged questioning whether Demjanjuk was a guard at the Nazi’s Treblinka camp.