Demjanjuk Received Same Treatment as Jews at Hands of Nazis, Says Attorney

John Demjanjuk denies charges of being accessory to murder as guard at Nazi Sobibor death camp; attorney says Nazis considered Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian prisoner of war, 'subhuman'.

John Demjanjuk's attorney has compared his client's suffering at the hands of the Nazis to that of the Jews and insisted he should be acquitted on 28,060 counts of accessory to murder.

Ulrich Busch said Thursday in his third day of closing arguments that Demjanjuk and other Ukrainian prisoners of war "were considered subhuman; Jews, Ukrainians or Gypsies did not count" for the Nazis.

John Demjanjuk

The 91-year-old Demjanjuk was a Red Army soldier who is accused of agreeing to serve as a guard at the Nazi's Sobibor death camp after he was captured. Prosecutors have called for his conviction and a six-year prison sentence.

Demjanjuk denies the charges and insists that he was never in a Nazi camp.
Busch told the Munich court where Demjanjuk's case is being tried on Wednesday that his client should be acquitted, saying the case was unproved.

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 a three day trial would "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 on Wednesday.

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 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.