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Accused Nazi ordered to surrender, son says

Immigration agents served suspected Nazi guard John Demjanjuk on Friday with a notice to surrender to an immigration office in Cleveland, his son said.
ADDITION Demjanjuk
Vera Demjanjuk, center, opens the door for immigration agents who were serving an order to surrender for John Demjanjuk on Friday in Seven Hills, Ohio. Tony Dejak / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Immigration agents served suspected Nazi guard John Demjanjuk on Friday with a notice to surrender to an immigration office in Cleveland, his son said — the latest volley in a more than 30-year legal battle over Demjanjuk's citizenship.

Demjanjuk, of Seven Hills in suburban Cleveland, faces deportation to Germany. An arrest warrant in Munich accuses him of 29,000 counts of accessory to murder at a death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II.

The notice was served one day after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the 89-year-old suspect's appeal to stop the deportation.

Demjanjuk Jr. did not say how his father would respond or whether the government set a deadline for surrender.

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.

Khaalid Walls, a spokesman for the immigration agency, said ICE was working with Germany on the deportation but would not comment on a timetable.

A Cleveland immigration attorney not connected to the case, David Leopold, predicted Demjanjuk would surrender by Monday, with agents determined to get him on a plane to Germany promptly so they would not have to keep him in custody. The order gives Demjanjuk a chance to avoid a repeat of the spectacle last month when he was carried from his house in a wheelchair as his wife sobbed, Leopold said.

In Germany, Demjanjuk lawyer Ulrich Busch challenged the Munich arrest warrant on Friday, citing 1979 testimony given by a Sobibor camp guard who says he does not remember Demjanjuk from either Sobibor or a training camp where he is also alleged to have served.

The hope is that if the arrest warrant is deemed invalid, then there will be no reason to deport Demjanjuk, his son said.

A separate attempt to block the deportation in Germany failed this week, when a Berlin court ruled the decision lies with U.S. authorities. That decision has been appealed.

Legal efforts in Germany
Busch, who could not immediately be reached for comment, conceded Thursday that there was nothing that could be done on the German side to force the U.S. not to deport Demjanjuk.

Demjanjuk, a native of Ukraine, says he was never a death camp guard and maintains he was held by the Germans as a Soviet prisoner of war.

The new motion in Germany to block deportation cites testimony given by a Sobibor camp guard that Demjanjuk Jr. said he found in U.S. prosecutors' case files.

In the seven-page typewritten statement, dated 1979, the guard, Mikhail Razgonyayev, said he did not remember Demjanjuk from either Sobibor or the Trawniki training camp where he is also alleged to have served.

Razgonyayev, a Soviet soldier taken prisoner by the Germans who then went to work for them, maintains further in the testimony that guards who did not participate in the killings were threatened by their German overseers with being sent to concentration camps themselves.

"Under these circumstances, I find it hard to imagine upon which basis the arrest warrant of the court was issued," Busch argues in the written filing.

It was not clear when there might be a ruling on the motion, and the court was closed by the time the AP received it.

Justice John Paul Stevens refused Thursday, without comment, to step into Demjanjuk's case.

Demjanjuk Jr. said Friday there were no plans to appeal to any of the other eight U.S. 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.

Dueling videos
On April 14, immigration officers went to Demjanjuk's one-story brick home and carried him out in a wheelchair to take him for a deportation flight to Germany.

Within hours and while Demjanjuk was still in an immigration office at a federal building in Cleveland, his attorney won from an appeals court a stay of deportation that lasted until May 1.

The fight over that appeal featured dueling videos.

The family's showed Demjanjuk moaning in apparent pain while an immigration officer examined him at home to check on his fitness to travel.

A government surveillance video showed him walking slowly but without assistance. The government said its video proved Demjanjuk was fit to travel.

Demjanjuk was tried in Israel after accusations surfaced that he was the notorious Nazi guard "Ivan the Terrible" in Poland at the Treblinka death camp.

He was found guilty in 1988 of war crimes and crimes against humanity, a conviction later overturned by the Israeli Supreme Court.

A U.S. judge revoked his citizenship in 2002 because of U.S. 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 he could be deported to Germany, Poland or Ukraine. Munich prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for him in March.