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Saturday, February 21, 1998 Published at 18:10 GMT

World: Americas

Accused war criminal wins back US citizenship
image: [ John Demjanjuk on his release from prison in Israel in 1993 ]
John Demjanjuk on his release from prison in Israel in 1993

A judge in the United States has reinstated the US citizenship of John Demjanjuk, the man accused in the 1980s of being the notorious Nazi war criminal known as Ivan the Terrible.

In his ruling restoring Mr Demjanjuk's citizenship, Judge Paul Matia said that the US Justice Department had acted with "reckless disregard for their duty" in the case.

Mr Demjanjuk, now 77 years old, was stripped of his US citizenship in 1981 and extradited to Israel five years later.

Although he was convicted of crimes against humanity during the Second World War at the Treblinka concentration camp in Poland, the Israeli Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 1993 - ruling that Mr Demjanjuk was not Ivan the Terrible.

Since returning to the US, Mr Demjanjuk has been seeking to have his citizenship restored.

Mr Demjanjuk insisted he was a Red Army soldier who spent most of the war in a German prisoner-of-war camp. He denied working in the death camps.

The decision to reinstate his citizenship was welcomed by his relatives.

Ed Nishnic, his son-in-law, said: "This case has been ongoing for 21 years, and we're growing tired of fighting and would like to start putting all of our lives back together."

However, the US Justice Department remains convinced that Mr Demjanjuk trained as a Nazi guard and says it is reviewing the judge's decision.

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