By M.R. KROPKO
SEVEN HILLS, Ohio (AP) — U.S. immigration officers are ready to make another attempt to deport John Demjanjuk, an 89-year-old Ohio man sought in Germany to answer in court for an alleged past as a guard at a Nazi death camp — the latest episode in a complex 32-year case linking him to World War II atrocities.
An arrest warrant in Munich accuses the native Ukrainian of 29,000 counts of accessory to murder at Sobibor in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1943, one of the infamous, horrific sites of the Holocaust.
Two Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers came to his home Friday in the Cleveland suburb Seven Hills and served a notice that asked him to surrender, one day after the Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal to stop the removal.
Justice John Paul Stevens refused Thursday, without comment, to deal with Demjanjuk’s case.
Demjanjuk’s son, John Demjanjuk Jr., said Friday that immigration officers seek his surrender. He said there are no plans to appeal to any of the other eight Supreme Court justices. He said such a move might be seen as a delay tactic, a claim made by the U.S. government about other Demjanjuk appeals. Demjanjuk Jr. said the family is seeking justice, not delay.
Demjanjuk Jr. did not say how his father would respond or whether the government set a deadline for surrender.
The request is for him to appear at Cleveland immigration enforcement offices, which includes a holding area, until he can be sent to Germany. His family says he is extremely ill, constantly in pain and might not survive an overseas flight. Their court filings argued his deportation would amount to torture.
Demjanjuk seldom and spoken in public and has said in past court appearances that during the war he was a Soviet soldier captured by the Germans and held as prisoner of war. His family has closely guarded his privacy and has rejected many requests from The Associated Press, including a written request last week, to interview him.
On April 14, immigration officers went to Demjanjuk’s one-story brick home and carried him out in a wheelchair as he moaned. Within hours and while Demjanjuk was still in custody, his attorney won from a federal appeals court a stay of deportation. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on May 1 denied the stay.
The legal fight over his removal has included clashing videos, some showing the elderly man in agony and hardly able to get out of bed, others taken recently by U.S. immigration surveillance showing him walking slowly but without assistance from a building where he had a doctor’s appointment.
Demjanjuk already has lived past an actual death sentence.
Stripped in 1981 of the U.S. citizenship the former refugee obtained in 1958, he was extradited to Israel in 1986 and tried as the notorious Nazi guard “Ivan the Terrible” at the Treblinka death camp.
He was found guilty in 1988 of war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced to death by hanging, a conviction later overturned by the Israeli Supreme Court based on evidence that another native Ukrainian was the brutal guard who tortured doomed, captive Jews on their way to their deaths at Treblinka.
The Israeli high court allowed his return to Ohio in 1993.
A U.S. judge revoked his restored citizenship in 2002 because of Justice Department evidence showing he concealed his service at Sobibor and other Nazi-run death and forced-labor camps.
An immigration judge ruled in 2005 that he could be deported to Germany, Poland or Ukraine. Munich prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for him in March.
Anyone subject to a deportation order would be considered a fugitive by federal authorities if he or she failed to surrender by the stated time, according to Julie Myers, assistant secretary of Immigration and Customs Enforcement during the latter part of the Bush administration.
A Cleveland immigration attorney not connected to the case, David Leopold, predicted the surrender time would come by Monday, with agents determined to get Demjanjuk on a plane to Germany promptly so they would not have to keep him in custody.
In Germany, Demjanjuk lawyer Ulrich Busch challenged the Munich arrest warrant Friday, citing 1979 testimony given by a Sobibor camp guard that he does not remember Demjanjuk from either Sobibor or a training camp where he is also alleged to have served.
But extensive documented evidence the Justice Department used to revoke Demjanjuk’s citizenship a second time established him as guard 1394, assigned to Sobibor and other places. The case was made by the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which has deported dozens from the U.S. because of Nazi connections.
Associated Press writers David Rising in Berlin, Eileen Sullivan in Washington and Thomas J. Sheeran in Cleveland contributed to this report
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