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'You're Liars!' Demjanjuk's Family Cries : Outburst Against Prosecutors Comes After Defense Rests

February 18, 1988|Associated Press

JERUSALEM — John Demjanjuk's wife and children shouted "You're liars!" to prosecutors today after the defense rested in the former Ohio auto worker's Nazi war crimes trial.

Demjanjuk's daughter, Irene Nishnic; his son, John Jr., and his wife, Vera, walked onto the stage of the converted movie theater where the year-old trial was held and shouted at the prosecutors.

Security guards quickly ushered them out of the courtroom. The sobs of the women could be heard, followed by an angry expletive by John Jr.

Demjanjuk, 67, appeared surprised, but did not otherwise react. The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk is accused of being "Ivan the Terrible," a brutal guard who operated gas chambers that killed 850,000 Jews at Treblinka in 1942 and 1943.

He was stripped of his U.S. citizenship in 1981 and was extradited to Israel to stand trial for war crimes. Demjanjuk insists that he is innocent and a victim of mistaken identity.

Verdict in April

The three-judge panel is expected to issue its verdict in April.

The emotional outburst came after defense attorney John Gill ended his final arguments and prosecutor Michael Shaked rose to respond to accusations that the prosecution had withheld from the defense documents that would exonerate Demjanjuk.

Shaked said the prosecution had provided all material to the defense "on a silver platter," and even translated it.

John Jr., 22, rose angrily from his front row seat, walked onto the stage, turned and said: "You're a liar." He was followed by Nishnic, 28, who shook her fist and tearfully cried: "You're lying!"

Vera Demjanjuk then rose, and in a heavily accented voice shaking with emotion, shouted: "You're a liar! You liar! Shame on you! Shame on you! You have no heart--nothing!" She was pulled from the stage by two security guards.

'It's All Been Lies'

After the family's outburst, presiding Judge Dov Levine told Shaked and the three-member defense team: "You both ought to do away with this bitterness because . . . we believe there was fair treatment."

Demjanjuk's family said, however, that they did not believe Demjanjuk had received a fair trial.

"It's all been lies from beginning to end," Nishnic said tearfully after the trial, her hands shaking.

"We just didn't expect the trial to end like that, to close with statements that aren't true. The defense should have been the ones to have the last say," she said.

John Jr. said the family believes that statements from 21 camp survivors who did not identify Demjanjuk as "Ivan" were withheld by the U.S. Justice Department and that the prosecution did not intervene to help.

"It's been a setup from beginning to end," he said.

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