Demjanjuk Lawyer: Detention of War Crimes Suspect 'Inhumane'

Attorney says Demjanjuk outwardly robust, but the prosecution is wearing him down psychologically.

BERLIN - A lawyer representing John Demjanjuk, the Ukrainian-born man accused of herding Jews to the gas chambers in a Nazi death camp, said Sunday that the pre-trial detention of his client, 89, in Germany was "inhumane."

Click here for timeline of the Demjanjuk case

In comments to appear Monday in the newspaper Tagesspiegel, Ulrich Busch said he met with Demjanjuk for five hours on Saturday in Munich's Stadelheim Prison and concluded he was suffering psychologically.

"His detention is a breach of our constitution and of human dignity," said Busch.

He said Demjanjuk was outwardly robust, but the prosecution was wearing him down psychologically by virtue of having him back in prison after 30 years of resisting charges. Busch and another lawyer have applied for bail for Demjanjuk.

Demjanjuk was delivered to Munich from the United States on Tuesday to answer accessory-to-murders charges that he worked at Sobibor death camp in Poland as an auxiliary, or guard employed by the SS, during 1943 in a period where 29,000 Jews were killed.

Demjanjuk, who lived in Germany from 1945 to 1952, has not been indicted yet, but prosecutors say a trial may begin within weeks.

The Sobibor camp commandant, Franz Stangl, was jailed for life in 1970 in Germany and died in prison. A German court had tried 11 other Sobibor SS guards in 1965-66, imprisoning six, one for life. One committed suicide during his trial.