Supreme Court Rejects New Trial, But Delays Demjanjuk’s Deportation
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israel’s Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to order a new war crimes trial for retired Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk but agreed to delay his deportation while it considered allowing a further appeal.
There was a stunned silence in the packed courtroom when the three-judge panel read their decision, which said there was ″no alternative but to reject all appeals″ and release the 73-year-old Demjanjuk.
But the petitioners, including Holocaust survivors, immediately appealed to Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar to allow the full five-judge Supreme Court to weigh requests for a new war crimes trial for the Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk.
The panel agreed to hold up Demjanjuk’s deportation but gave no indication of how long it would take to decide whether to convene the full court. State attorney Nili Arad told the court she would not oppose a delay of several days.
The five-judge panel is the highest level of Israel’s multi-tiered Supreme Court.
The full court last month acquitted Demjanjuk and threw out a death sentence, saying there was reasonable doubt that he was ″Ivan the Terrible,″ the sadistic guard at the Treblinka death camp who operated gas chambers in which 850,000 Jews perished.
The court said in that ruling, however, that there was evidence that Demjanjuk was a guard at other Nazi camps. It recommended against a new trial.
Eight groups of Holocaust survivors, Nazi hunters and others appealed for a new trial, saying there was evidence that he had served as a guard at other Nazi camps besides Treblinka.
The ruling against a new trial for Demjanjuk brought immediate shouts of outrage from spectators in the courtroom.
″This court is corrupt. You bring shame on the Jewish people. Shame 3/8 Shame 3/8″ cried Miki Sunshine, a Jerusalem resident.
Yisrael Yehezkeli, a Holocaust survivor who served two years in jail for throwing acid in the face of Demjanjuk’s attorney, tore his shirt in a sign of mourning and screamed in anger.
The effect of the court decision seemed to be a further step toward Demjanjuk’s eventual release. It appeared unlikely that the full Supreme Court would change its mind about a new trial.
Demjanjuk’s lawyer, Yoram Sheftel, said the decision to prevent Demjanjuk’s immediate release was ″an exploitation of the legal processes and an attempt to delay the deportation of someone who has been in prison for seven years and emerged innocent.″
Rep. James Traficant, D-Ohio, told reporters before the hearing that a special permit allowing Demjanjuk to enter the United States would be waiting for Demjanjuk at Ben-Gurion International Airport if the Israeli court ordered him deported.
Demjanjuk’s son, John Jr., said before the ruling that the ″law and the facts are so overwhelmingly on our side that we feel very comfortable that it’s going to result in a departure very soon from this country.″
Security was tight at the court even though Demjanjuk was not in the courtroom for the hearing. He was held at the Ayalon Prison in the central Israeli town of Ramle.