John Demjanjuk has been convicted of helping Nazi in massacring 28,000 Jews at Sobibor camp during Holocaust, to five years in prison by a German court on Thursday.
Ukraine-born Demjanjuk was drafted during the World War II into the Soviet army and was taken prisoner by Germany. Prosecutors accused Demjanjuk of having worked as a guard at Sobibor in Poland and taken part in the killing, while Demjanjuk denies the claim and argues he was a victim.
This isn’t the first time when Demjanjuk was alleged of his relationship to Nazi. After he naturalized to the United States in 1958 and settled in Ohio, he was exiled to Israel where he received a death sentence in 1988, with the accusation that he was a guard (the notorious “Ivan the Terrible”) at the Treblinka camp. This decision was overturned in 1993 by the Israeli Supreme Court, accepting the proposal that the identity was mistaken.
A new trial for Demjanjuk began when Germany issued an arrest warrant, and as a result he was deported from the United States in May 2009. This time, he was accused of being the guard at Sobibor camp.
The verdict was delivered on Thursday, giving 5 years of imprisonment, one year short of what the prosecutors asked. At the moment, Demjanjuk is out of prison, pending an appeal process.
According to Stephan Kramer, the Secretary General of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, the verdict was “not revenge but the execution of justice.”
Helen Hyde, a family of Sobibor victim, who attended the trial commented that, “[what is important] was the fact that he was found guilty of aiding and abetting mass murder at Sobibor.”
Demjanjuk maintains the position of denying the charge and has argued the Nazi identification card with a picture of Demjanjuk, which had been an important piece for the prosecution, was a fake ID.