A former U.S. attorney who prosecuted John Demjanjuk in the United States testified Wednesday that he felt the retired Ohio autoworker who is accused of being a Nazi guard lied about where he was during World War II.
Demjanjuk, who was deported from the U.S. to Germany in May 2009, is on trial for 28,060 counts of accessory to murder on allegations he was a guard at the Nazis' Sobibor death camp — charges he denies.
He claims he spent most of the rest of the war in Nazi camps for prisoners of war before joining the so-called Vlasov Army of anti-communist Soviet POWs and others. That army was formed to fight with the Germans against the advancing Soviets in the final months of the war.
But Norman Moscowitz, a former attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Special Investigations, told the Munich state court that during Demjanjuk's 1981 denaturalization hearing, several inconsistencies in his testimony "contributed to my sense he was not telling the truth."
He said, for example, that Demjanjuk said he was held in a camp in Chelm, Poland, at a time when it had already been closed down; and that he said he had joined the Vlasov army at a time it hadn't yet been formed.
Demjanjuk's defense has questioned the value of Moscowitz's testimony, however, noting that a federal appeals panel in the U.S. chastised him and others involved in the American proceedings for withholding exculpatory evidence from the defense in the 1980s.
Demjanjuk had his U.S. citizenship revoked in 1981 after the Justice Department alleged he hid his past as the notorious Treblinka guard "Ivan the Terrible." He was extradited to Israel, where he was found guilty and sentenced to death in 1988, only to have the conviction overturned five years later as a case of mistaken identity.
In a 1993 review of the denaturalization hearing, which led to the extradition to Israel, a federal U.S. appeals panel concluded that the OSI engaged in "prosecutorial misconduct that seriously misled the court."
It said that Moscowitz and others failed to disclose exculpatory information — including statements of Ukrainian guards at Treblinka who "clearly identified" another man as "Ivan the Terrible" — in a timely fashion to the defense due to a "win at any cost" attitude.
Demjanjuk is now being tried on allegations he was a guard at Sobibor — a different Nazi death camp in occupied Poland.
Demjanjuk's son, John Demjanjuk Jr. told The Associated Press in an e-mail that Moscowitz should not be heard in the Munich case in view of the appeal panel's finding, even though the judges didn't suggest sanctions against him.
"For the Munich court to rely upon the poster boy of prosecutorial misconduct speaks loudly about the current prosecution's desperation to win at any cost," he said.
The trial session scheduled for Tuesday was canceled after Demjanjuk was hospitalized with low blood hemoglobin levels.
He received a transfusion and was back in court Wednesday, but lay in a bed wearing dark sunglasses, and showed no reaction to the testimony.