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Appeals court to decide Demjanjuk fate

April 25, 2009 at 2:54 PM

CINCINNATI, April 25 (UPI) -- Attorneys for accused Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk say he is too old and frail to travel from Ohio to Germany to stand trial.

The lawyers, as well as Demjanjuk's son John Jr., are asking the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to overrule a deportation ordered by U.S. Immigration officials, saying the 89-year-old wouldn't survive the ordeal, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported Saturday.

Observers said if the court agrees with Demjanjuk, he will likely return home to suburban Cleveland to live out his remaining days; while if it disagrees, Demjanjuk would head to Germany for what would probably be one of the last World War II-era war crimes trials.

Demjanjuk has consistently denied he was ever present at Nazi death camps, but federal prosecutors, Nazi hunters and Jewish activists say he served as an SS guard at concentration camps in Germany and Poland where he allegedly contributed to the deaths of thousands of Jews in carbon monoxide gas chambers.

John Demjanjuk Jr. told the Enquirer a trial in Germany would prove nothing and could very well kill his father, who suffers from kidney disease, a bone marrow disorder, arthritis, gout and other health problems.

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