Image: John Demjanjuk.
Mark Duncan  /  AP FILE
John Demjanjuk, left, seen arriving at the federal building in Cleveland, Ohio, is accused by the Justice Department of being a sadistic Nazi guard.
updated 6/21/2005 7:40:34 AM ET 2005-06-21T11:40:34

The nation’s chief immigration judge has ruled that an Ohio man who lost his citizenship because he allegedly served as a Nazi guard can be removed from the United States.

But the judge made clear that John Demjanjuk has the right to fight any possible deportation order against him.

Chief Immigration Judge Michael J. Creppy’s ruling is one step in a process to determine whether Demjanjuk, 85, will be deported, immigration court spokeswoman Elaine Komis said Monday.

Demjanjuk has until a June 30 hearing to file motions arguing why he should be allowed to stay.

The United States first tried to deport Demjanjuk in 1977, accusing him of being a notorious guard, Ivan the Terrible, at the Treblinka death camp. He was extradited to Israel, convicted and sentenced to hang, but the Israeli Supreme Court found that someone else was apparently that guard.

Demjanjuk returned home and his U.S. citizenship was restored. The current deportation case is based on evidence uncovered by the Justice Department alleging he was a different guard. That evidence led courts to again strip Demjanjuk of his citizenship.

He has denied the government’s allegations.

Creppy’s ruling came Thursday in Falls Church, Va. Thomas Elliot, Demjanjuk’s lawyer in Washington, said Monday that he will fight Demjanjuk’s deportation on two grounds — that Creppy is not entitled to make rulings in the case, and that deportation would amount to torture. Demjanjuk is in frail health and suffers back pain.

Elliot said the Justice Department has informed him it favors deporting Demjanjuk to his native Ukraine, or alternatively to Poland or Germany.

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