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Thursday, 21 February, 2002, 16:42 GMT
Alleged Nazi guard loses US citizenship
John Demjanjuk
Demjanjuk had his conviction overturned in Israel
A US federal judge has revoked the citizenship of a Ukrainian immigrant who allegedly served as a guard in a Nazi death camp during World War Two.

John Demjanjuk, 81, had argued that he was a prisoner of war.

But, eight months after the trial, Judge Paul Matia ruled there was enough evidence to prove that he had served as a guard in a camp.

It was the US Justice Department's second attempt to strip John Demjanjuk - known as Ivan in his homeland - of his citizenship.

'Mistaken identity'

The Justice Department's case focused on documents that included references to a man with the same birth date, birth place and physical description, including a scar matching Mr Demjanjuk's.


We will appeal and will prove them wrong once again

John Demjanjuk spokesman
The defence, however, argued that it was a case of mistaken identity and that he may have been confused with a cousin called Ivan Demjanjuk.

It said that without the testimony of any live witness who saw John Demjanjuk commit any of the charged acts the trial would just be just a "trial by document".

But in his ruling, the judge said the documents presented by the prosecution provided "convincing and unequivocal evidence".

Conviction quashed

Mr Demjanjuk, who gained entry into the United States in 1951 claiming he had spent much of the war as a German prisoner captured in the Crimea from the Soviet army, was first charged with war crimes in 1977.

He first lost his citizenship in 1981, after a court ruled that he had lied about his wartime past.

Mr Demjanjuk, it was said, had worked at the Treblinka concentration camp, in Poland, where he was known as "Ivan the Terrible".

On losing his citizenship, he was extradited to Israel, where he was tried and sentenced to death in 1988.

But his conviction was quashed five years later by the Israeli Supreme Court, after evidence suggested that another Ukrainian was Ivan the Terrible.

Mr Demjanjuk returned to the United States, where judges reprimanded the Justice Department and restored his citizenship.

Appeal

The latest case did not include allegations of him being a Treblinka guard, but named three other death camps.

Mr Demjanjuk's family said they would appeal.

"It is true that judges have ruled against us in the past and public opinion has been against us in the past," Mr Demjanjuk's son-in-law and spokesman, Ed Nishnic, said.

"Nevertheless, we have proven them wrong before and have been vindicated. We will appeal and will prove them wrong once again."

See also:

30 May 01 | Americas
Alleged Nazi on trial again
20 May 99 | Americas
Demjanjuk's citizenship trial
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