Saturday, March 24, 2012
Demjanjuk deemed innocent in Germany
Munich state court spokeswoman Margarete Noetzel said this week that under German law, Demjanjuk is "still technically presumed innocent," because he died before his final appeal could be heard, and "a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty."
Asked by Haaretz if that means there is no record of Demjanjuk's conviction, Noetzel replied, "Yes, it means Mr. Demjanjuk has no criminal record."
Since Demjanjuk's conviction cannot be validated legally, due to his death, the conviction remains "merely as an historic fact," Noetzel said.
Last May, Demjanjuk was convicted in Germany of 28,060 counts of being an accessory to murder at the Sobibor death camp in occupied Poland and sentenced to five years in prison. He appealed to a higher court and was allowed to wait for the court's verdict on his appeal in a nursing home in south Germany. That is where he died this week.
Demjanjuk's German lawyer, Dr. Ulrich Busch, told Haaretz that the Munich court published the statement regarding his client's presumed innocence at his demand.
"After my client's death, a false statement was distributed to the effect that Mr. Demjanjuk died as a convicted war criminal," Busch told Haaretz in an exchange of e-mails. "The German and international media accepted this version and sullied my client, portraying him as one who led 28,000 people to the gas chambers."
Busch said he demanded the legal authorities in Germany issue a clarification saying his client "died innocent and without conviction," and that his conviction by a lower court "is invalid.
"The statement issued now clears my client's name and restores his dignity," he said.
"It's a great consolation to his family, which is grieving over the loss of a husband and father, who died alone in far away Germany," Busch added.
He described Ukraine-born Demjanjuk's conviction as a "legal scandal."
"I was and still am convinced the Supreme Court would have granted his appeal and acquitted him this year, had he not died before the procedure ended," he said.