The deportation of alleged Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk should be blocked because forcing the frail 89-year-old to go to Germany would amount to torture, his attorney said in a court filing Tuesday.
John Broadley, the attorney for the retired Cleveland area auto worker, asked the Board of Immigration Appeals in Falls Church, Va., to block his client's deportation and reopen a U.S. case that has ordered Demjanjuk deported.
Germany had wanted Demjanjuk in the country Monday. But a U.S. immigration judge Friday agreed to temporarily halt his removal from the United States, then revoked that decision Monday. The stay expires Wednesday.
Demjanjuk is accused in a German arrest warrant of 29,000 counts of acting as an accessory to murder at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1943. He has denied involvement in any deaths.
The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk came to the United States after World War II as a refugee.
In Germany, Demjanjuk would have a chance to respond to the allegations before a judge in Munich. German prosecutors are making their case based largely on evidence used in the U.S. to strip Demjanjuk of his citizenship in 2002.
'Severe physical and mental pain'
In a three-page signed statement last week, Demjanjuk asked for asylum in the U.S. and said deporting him "will expose me to severe physical and mental pain that clearly amount to torture under any reasonable definition of the term."
He said he suffers severe spinal, hip and leg pain and has a bone marrow disorder, kidney disease, anemia, kidney stones, arthritis, gout and spinal deterioration.
Broadley said a government physician examined Demjanjuk on Thursday to determine his ability to travel and there was "dramatic evidence" of his back pain. Broadley submitted a portion of the exam videotape to the government on Friday as part of his argument against deportation.
The Justice Department responded by saying Demjanjuk's medical capacity to stand trial abroad "is, of course, irrelevant in a removal proceeding."
Demjanjuk first gained U.S. citizenship in 1958. But his citizenship was revoked in 1981 when the Justice Department alleged he had served the Nazis as the notorious Nazi guard "Ivan the Terrible" in Poland at the Treblinka death camp.
He was extradited to Israel in 1986, and two years later he was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He appealed, and Israel's Supreme Court in 1993 ruled that Demjanjuk was not Ivan the Terrible and allowed him to return to the United States.
His U.S. citizenship was restored in 1998. The Justice Department went after his citizenship again, making a case that he had served at Sobibor and other death or forced labor camps.