May 12, 2009 in Nation/World

Suspected Nazi guard Demjanjuk leaves U.S.

Associated Press
 

CLEVELAND – Federal agents carrying John Demjanjuk in a wheelchair put him on a small jet Monday to be deported to Germany, where the retired autoworker is accused of being a Nazi death camp guard in World War II.

Demjanjuk, 89, arrived in an ambulance at Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport after spending several hours with U.S. immigration officials at a downtown federal building. Airport commissioner Khalid Bahhur confirmed Demjanjuk was on the plane and that its destination is Germany.

The deportation came four days after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider Demjanjuk’s request to block deportation and about 3 1/2 years after he was last ordered deported.

The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk is wanted on a Munich arrest warrant that accuses him of 29,000 counts of accessory to murder as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. The legal case spans three decades.

A German Justice Ministry spokesman, Ulrich Staudigl, said the retired autoworker was expected to be in Germany today.

Demjanjuk denies Germany’s accusations, saying he was held by the Germans as a Soviet prisoner of war and was never a camp guard. Demjanjuk’s family fought deportation, arguing he is in poor health and might not survive the journey.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, a founder of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, said Demjanjuk deserves to be punished and that this will probably be the last trial of someone accused of Nazi war crimes. “His work at the Sobibor death camp was to push men, women and children into the gas chamber,” Hier said in a statement. “He had no mercy, no pity and no remorse for the families whose lives he was destroying.”

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