Magazine Publishes New Soviet Testimony On 'Ivan The Terrible'
Jul. 31, 1991
JERUSALEM (AP) _ The lawyer for convicted Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk says a photograph and testimony from death-camp guards that were published in an Israeli magazine today prove his client's innocence.
Demjanjuk, a former Ohio auto worker, was identified as ''Ivan the Terrible,'' the sadistic guard who operated the gas chambers at the Treblinka death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1942 and 1943. Demjanjuk, 71, maintains he is a victim of mistaken identity.
He was convicted in April 1988 of crimes against humanity and crimes against the Jewish people, and faces the death sentence.
The weekly Haolam Hazeh magazine ran a blurry photograph of two Treblinka death camp guards, one identified as Ivan Marchenko, who the defense maintains is the real ''Ivan the Terrible.''
Defense attorney Yoram Sheftel said the magazine's information came from a motion he made Tuesday to the Supreme Court, and insisted that the testimony of 21 Soviet guards and the photograph warrant the immediate release without bail of his client.
The Supreme Court will discuss the matter August 14, said spokeswoman Eti Eshed.
The guards, who testified in the Soviet Union between 1944 and 1961, all identified ''Ivan the Terrible'' as Ivan Marchenko, said Sheftel. Marchenko was born in a different Ukrainian district and has differing facial characteristics than Demjanjuk, he said.
The prosecution claims Demjanjuk once used the name Marchenko, but the defense says he never called himself by that name.
The material was brought from Moscow by prosecuting attorney Michael Shaked in December and presented to Sheftel on Friday after Demjanjuk threatened a hunger strike if the material was not given to his lawyer, Sheftel said.
Shaked could not be reached immediately for comment.
Demjanjuk maintains that he spent most of World War II in Nazi prisoner-of- war camps after being captured by German troops while serving in the Soviet Red Army.
Sheftel said the testimony of Soviet guards from Treblinka said ''Ivan the Terrible,'' or Ivan Marchenko, was captured by German troops in 1941, while his client fell captive in May 1942.
The photograph, taken at a training camp for Soviet Nazi guards, shows Marchenko with guard Ivan Takuchuk. Takuchuk confirmed in his testimony that the photo was of him, but could not remember the name of his companion.
Testimony by another guard named Vacilienko identified Takuchuk as standing with Marchenko, or ''Ivan the Terrible.''
The picture, coupled with testimony of Soviet Nazi guards, ''who said Ivan Marchenko had a facial scar, which Demjanjuk does not, had brown eyes while Demjanjuk has blue, and thick lips while Demjanjuk's are extremely thin'' prove Ivan the Terrible is not my client, said Sheftel.
Demjanjuk has been held in a maximum-security cell in Ramle prison since his deportation from the United States in 1986.