The lawyer for John Demjanjuk, the 91-year-old accused of being an accessory to 27,900 Nazi death camp murders, demanded his client's acquittal Tuesday, telling a Munich court the case was unproved.
Lawyer Ulrich Busch was beginning a summation of the defence case, expected to take at least three days, before judges retire to consider their verdict in what may turn out to be the world's last major trial for Holocaust crimes.
The lawyer told judges that German, Israeli and Polish prosecutors had previously investigated allegations that Demjanjuk was a guard at Sobibor death camp and decided it would be impossible to win a conviction. He argued this was still true.
Busch said the next three days were "probably not enough" for his arguments. Another Demjanjuk lawyer, Guenther Maull, is also planning an address, but told reporters he would not speak long.
A verdict is expected some time next week.
"What I am seeking is obvious: acquittal for the accused, release from detention and compensation for the detention," Busch told reporters before the day's hearing opened.
The case has made legal history, because there was no eyewitness evidence that Demjanjuk killed any individual. He was charged with being an accessory to murder rather than with more serious charges.
Prosecutors, who have demanded six years' jail for Demjamjuk, say it is enough to prove that Demjanjuk accepted employment as an SS auxiliary, serving from March until September 1943 at the camp.
They say everyone working there knew that Jews were being taken to the site and killed in gas chambers. This was Sobibor's sole purpose.
A succession of relatives of Holocaust victims, admitted to the trial as civil co-prosecutors, have asked the judges to show no leniency.
But Busch has insisted the prosecution, based mainly on documents, does not prove his Ukraine-born client, a former Red Army soldier, committed any crimes after his capture by the Germans.
Demjanjuk, previously acquitted at a trial in Israel of working as a Nazi guard at another camp, Treblinka, was deported two years ago from the United States, where he had lived for decades.
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