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Nazi War Crimes Trial Opens in Jerusalem : 'I'm Not Ivan the Terrible'--Demjanjuk

November 26, 1986|Associated Press

JERUSALEM — Retired U.S. auto worker John Demjanjuk, trembling and nervously rocking back and forth at today's start of his Nazi war crimes trial, denied he was the sadistic death camp guard known as "Ivan the Terrible."

Demjanjuk repeatedly stood up and sat down and grimaced throughout the 40-minute session in the packed courtroom of Jerusalem's District Court.

Judge Dov Levine did not read the 26-page indictment after Demjanjuk told him through a Ukrainian translator that he had been read the charges by his lawyer.

"But I am not the 'Ivan the Terrible' that you want to hang," the 66-year-old Ukrainian-born former U.S. citizen said.

Demjanjuk's American attorney, Mark O'Connor, asked to delay his client's plea, saying he had not had enough time to review the evidence. But Levine refused and said the court considered Demjanjuk's statement to be a plea of not guilty. He adjourned the court and scheduled the next session for Jan. 19.

Demjanjuk was taken out of the courtroom temporarily during the proceedings to be seen by a doctor. His attorney said Demjanjuk had bumped his head in a police van during the trip to the court.

O'Connor said his client was in severe pain throughout the hearing because of the blow to the head and "serious internal problems, which have not been diagnosed."

The indictment accuses Demjanjuk of war crimes, crimes against Jews and crimes against humanity, punishable by death.

He has been kept in solitary confinement at the Ayalong prison since he was extradited from the United States in February after being stripped of U.S. citizenship for concealing his alleged Nazi past when he immigrated in the 1950s. He had been an auto worker in Cleveland.

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