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Nazi hunters look at cases with fresh eye

Oct. 6, 2011 at 11:06 AM   |   Comments

BERLIN, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- Nazi hunters in Germany say they're scouring cold case files for former death camp guards after the conviction of John Demjanjuk.

Kurt Schrimm, head of the Central Office for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes, told The New York Times he hopes they can make it through the hundreds of files in the next year. The death camp guards would all be in their 80s and 90s now, the report said.

The legal precedent set by Demjanjuk's conviction means prosecutors have a better chance of winning convictions in other World War II cases, the newspaper said.

A German court found Demjanjuk guilty in May of being an accessory to murder in 28,060 cases, which is the number of people who died while he was a guard at the Sobibor camp in Poland. Prosecutors didn't focus on a specific death, instead arguing that working as a death camp guard automatically made Demjanjuk, who is now 91, an accessory to murder, the newspaper said.

The Ukrainian-American immigrated to the United States in 1952 and was deported to Israel in 1986 to stand trial for war crimes. He returned to Cleveland and was deported to Germany in 2009.

"No individual guilt was proven, how on such and such a day, this or that person was killed," Schrimm said. "We stepped onto virgin territory, and the court in Munich validated us."

Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Israel told ABC News, said the conviction opened the door to prosecutions that he had never thought possible.

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