Hear testimony from the dead.

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PostMon Nov 23, 2009 9:35 pm » by Savwafair2012


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Mr Demjanjuk's trial will be the last great Nazi war crimes hearing in history Photo: AP

Demjanjuk trial to hear testimony from the dead
The trial of alleged Nazi mass murderer John Demjanjuk starts next Monday without a single eyewitness to his crimes.

Munich prosecutors who built the case against former death camp guard Mr Demjanjuk, 89, put 23 witnesses on their list, some of them from Russia and Ukraine.

But all members of the list are dead. It means that Demjanjuk, charged with assisting in 27,900 murders during his time as an SS guard at the extermination camp of Sobibor in occupied Poland, will be judged on records such as his identity card and on the statements of the dead.

His lawyer Guenther Maull said the defence would contest the witness statements may have been made under pressure from Soviet KGB interrogators. "The men were questioned 30 years ago at least in part in the Soviet Union and possibly under pressure," he said. "Whether their statements have any value as evidence is questionable."

Mr Demjanjuk's trial will be the last great Nazi war crimes hearing in history. Authorities in Munich said over 300 international media organisations had asked for accreditation for the process which will introduce a new generation to the horrors of the Nazi genocide machine.

Born Ivan Demnjanjuk, the defendant was sentenced to death by an Israeli court 20 years ago for being the guard known as "Ivan the Terrible" at the Treblinka extermination complex north of Warsaw.

But although cleared on appeal, the Israeli judges said there was "strong evidence" that he was in fact present instead at Sobibor during the war, a camp where at least 250,000 people were murdered in less than a year.

Mr Demjanjuk, who lived for years in America and worked at a Ford car plant, was stripped of his U.S. citizenship nearly a decade ago. He was finally brought to Germany earlier this year and, despite his frail health, was judged fit to stand trial.

The prosecution alleges the former Red Army soldier went to work for the Nazis for good pay, food and vodka.

Mr Demjanjuk denies that he was ever in Sobibor or that he worked for the Nazis; this despite a wealth of documentary evidence.


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