The deportation to Germany of accused Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk has been halted after a US appeals court decided to review his case.
The 89-year old faces charges in the deaths of 29,000 Jews at the Sobibor death camp in 1943. His relatives in Ohio argue that deporting the ailing man would amount to torture and that the trip alone might kill him. “They ruled in his favour, and I could see the relief on his face, and I said, ‘you don’t have to go to Germany today, and we’re going to bring you home,’ so he was very happy,” said family spokesman Ed Nishnic. Earlier, immigration agents descended on his house, and, after a check by a doctor, loaded him into a van in his wheelchair as his weeping wife stood by. But instead of being flown to Munich he was taken to a federal building in Cleveland. This is the latest in a saga that dates back more than 20 years. Demjanjuk was sentenced to death by a court in Israel in 1988 as the sadistic guard “Ivan the Terrible” at Treblinka where nearly a million Jews died. But Israel’s highest court later overturned the ruling saying he was not “Ivan”. He returned to his home in the Ohio in 1993, however US Nazi hunters reopened the case and, a decade later, he was convicted of working at three other camps. He denies any role in the Holocaust and claims to have been a German prisoner of war.