Judge Reprimands Attorney for Comparing Demjanjuk Case to Dreyfus Case
Feb. 17, 1988
JERUSALEM (AP) _ A judge in the Nazi war crimes trial of John Demjanjuk today reprimanded a defense attorney for comparing the proceedings to the Dreyfus case, in which a Jewish officer in the French army was falsely convicted of treason.
Presiding Judge Dov Levine ordered defense attorney Paul Chumak to retract the statement and said, ''No court in the world would allow such unfair claims to be made.''
Chumak refused repeatedly, but when Levine threatened to cite him for contempt of court, both sides agreed to take the issue up at Thursday's session.
Chumak told the court during closing arguments that ''Capt. (Alfred) Dreyfus was convicted at the beginning of the century on the basis of false documents in a wave of anti-Semitism. Paralleling this with anti-Ukrainianism, this trial has all the earmarks of the Dreyfus trial.''
The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk is accused of being ''Ivan the Terrible,'' a sadistic guard who operated gas chambers that killed 850,000 Jews at the Treblinka death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1942 and 1943.
Demjanjuk, 67, a retired Ohio autoworker, claims he is a victim of mistaken identity. He says he served in the Soviet army, was captured by the Germans in 1941 and remained in prisoner of war camps until 1943.
Earlier, Chumak alleged that the Soviet secret police forged a key piece of prosecution evidence as part of an elaborate conspiracy to discredit the Israeli court and create a rift between Ukrainians and Jews in the Soviet Union.
Chumak said the KGB forged the document - Demjanjuk's alleged Nazi identity card - so it could accuse the court of injustice if Demjanjuk were convicted.
Levine responded sharply, calling the theory ''distasteful.''
The Soviet-supplied document is the so-called Trawniki card. The prosecution alleged it was issued to Demjanjuk at Trawniki, a Nazi training camp for death camp guards near Treblinka.
Chumak also sought to discredit prosecution witness Patricia Smith, one of several experts who testified to the authenticity of the card.
Ms. Smith, an anthropologist, authenticated Demjanjuk's picture on the Trawniki card by superimposing it on video footage of the defendant taken two years ago.
Chumak called Ms. Smith's method an ''unexplored field'' and said it was not accepted by the scientific community.
The defense is to wrap up its case Thursday, and a verdict from the three- judge panel is expected by April. If convicted, Demjanjuk could face the death penalty.