German court finds 91-year-old John Demjanjuk guilty of helping to kill thousands of Jews at concentation camp.
|Much of the case rested on the authenticity of an ID card, which the defence insists is a fake [EPA]|
A court in Germany has found John Demjanjuk guilty of helping kill nearly 28,000 Jews in a Nazi concentration camp.
The 91-year-old was sentenced to five years in prison by a Munich court on Thursday as an accessory to mass murder during his time as a guard at the Sobibor camp in occupied Poland.
His lawyers had previously said they would appeal any guilty verdict.
Earlier in the day Demjanjyk rejected an offer to make a final plea as 18-month trial came to a close.
Asked by judges whether he wanted to say any final words, Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk, speaking through an interpreter, replied: "No".
The judges also rejected requests by the defence to seek more evidence in the trial.
Demjanjuk was accused of working for six months at the Sobibor extermination camp in occupied Poland in 1943, during which time 27,900 Jews were gassed to death there.
The prosecution argued that if he worked as a camp guard, by definition, he was guilty of helping to kill all the Jews sent there at the time.
Demjanjuk said he fought in the Red Army before being captured by the Germans in 1942, and said that although he was recruited as a camp guard, he was not placed at Sobibor.
He said he remained a prisoner-of-war until the end of 1945, and later emigrated to the United States where he married and had a family.
But Israeli and US courts have established he was at the camp, where prosecutors say Jews were killed with a toxic mix of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.
Demjanjuk served nearly eight years in an Israeli prison, five of them on death row after being found guilty in the 1980s of serving as a guard in another death camp - Treblinka - where he went by the name "Ivan the Terrible".
The Israeli supreme court later overturned the verdict and ordered his release on the grounds that he had likely been wrongly identified.
Much of the case for the prosecution had rested on whether an identity card, made out by the SS to one Ivan Demjanjuk who was trained with them to become a prison guard and who was sent to Sobibor, was genuine and belonged to the accused.
The defence insisted it was a fake.