JERUSALEM — The lawyer for convicted Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk, 70, today asked Israel's Supreme Court to free his client, saying new evidence proves he is not the sadistic gas chamber operator "Ivan the Terrible."
Israel in 1988 sentenced the Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk to hang for killing thousands of Jews at Treblinka death camp in World War II. The Supreme Court has yet to rule on an appeal by Demjanjuk, who says he is the victim of mistaken identity.
Attorney Yoram Sheftel said Demjanjuk should be freed without bail after telling the court of a Soviet KGB file from the 1950s in which former Treblinka guards named the gas chamber operator as Ivan Marczenko, not Ivan Demjanjuk.
He submitted Soviet and U.S. documents disputing the prosecution's argument that Marczenko was the maiden name of Demjanjuk's mother. Sheftel presented a Ukrainian marriage certificate from 1910 listing her maiden name as Tabachuk. The United States deported Demjanjuk in 1986.
"'Ivan the Terrible' was Ivan Marczenko. The accused is not Ivan Marczenko, and Marczenko is not his mother's maiden name, period," Sheftel, an Israeli, told the five justices.