CLEVELAND (AP) - After a motion for a new trial was rejected in March, a lawyer representing John Demjanjuk (pictured, right) said Wednesday he soon intends to appeal a judge's order that stripped the retired auto worker of his citizenship for covering up a past as a Nazi guard.
John H. Broadley, a Washington lawyer, said he plans to file the appeal later this month. He will handle the appeal with the assistance of two law students because Demjanjuk's other trial lawyer, Michael E. Tigar, no longer has time to work on the case.
Broadley and Tigar represented Demjanjuk for free last June at his citizenship trial, which was heard without a jury by U.S. District Judge Paul R. Matia. On Feb. 21, Matia ruled the Justice Department proved "by clear, convincing, and unequivocal evidence that defendant assisted in the persecution of civilian populations during World War II."
Broadley said he has Demjanjuk's citizenship papers and passport and will hold them until the appeal process is over.
Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian refugee, has maintained he was a prisoner of war. He could eventually face deportation.
Justice Department spokeswoman Jill Stillman said Wednesday an appeal has been expected ever since the judge's ruling.
"We'll take appropriate steps when the time comes," she said.
Demjanjuk, whose home is in the Cleveland suburb Seven Hills, turned 82 on Wednesday. He responded to government questions in a deposition during 2000 but did not attend his citizenship trial last summer.
"Physically he has been going downhill," said Ed Nishnic, his son-in-law and family spokesman. "Twenty-five years of constant prosecution has taken its toll on him. He still believes that justice will prevail in the end and that he will be vindicated. He has been successful in the court of appeals in both the United States and in Israel and we trust we will be successful in the appeal."
Another federal judge in 1981 revoked Demjanjuk's citizenship and he was extradited to Israel in 1986, accused of being the infamous Nazi guard "Ivan the Terrible" at Poland's Treblinka death camp. He was convicted in Israel and sentenced to death in 1988.
However, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in 1993 that Demjanjuk was not Ivan the Terrible. A U.S. appeals court then sent his case back to the district court, and in 1998, Matia reinstated Demjanjuk's citizenship.
But the Justice Department renewed the case, arguing that Demjanjuk was a guard at other death camps. The government's new case did not attempt to link him to Ivan the Terrible.
Keys to the government's case were documents kept by the Germans and archived by the Soviet Union that prosecutors said showed Demjanjuk was guard number 1393 and assigned to several Nazi death or forced labor camps after he was trained at Trawniki in Poland.
Matia on March 27 denied Demjanjuk's request for a new trial or to change his previous ruling. The next day, Matia stayed the order revoking Demjanjuk's citizenship pending appeal.
In post-judgment motions, Demjanjuk's lawyers criticized Matia's ruling and the government's case, which was based on documentary evidence rather than witnesses.
Matia has said his ruling was based on "an extremely thorough, meticulous and detailed analysis of the evidence."
Government lawyers, in a response March 12 opposing a Demjanjuk motion for a revised verdict or new trial, said Demjanjuk's defense presented "no credible argument, reason, or proof to support a claim that he was elsewhere during World War II or that Nazi documents refer to someone else."
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)