Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Demjanjuk's release delayed once again

JERUSALEM - Minutes after ordering the release of John Demjanjuk yesterday, the Israeli Supreme Court changed its mind and gave Nazi-hunters another chance to seek a new trial for the man acquitted of crimes committed by the gas chamber operator known as 'Ivan the Terrible'.

Mr Demjanjuk, 73, who has spent seven years in the labyrinth of the Israeli legal system, will not know his fate until at least Friday, when Chief Justice Meir Shamgar will hear a request for a second opinion on whether he should face other charges.

Three Supreme Court judges rejected 10 petitions demanding Mr Demjanjuk stand trial in connection with Nazi death camps other than Treblinka where 'Ivan the Terrible' gassed his victims. But the petitioners, who include Nazi-hunters and Holocaust survivors, appealed for their request to go before a wider panel of five Supreme Court justices.

Judge Shamgar, one of the justices who cleared Mr Demjanjuk of the Treblinka charges and lifted a death sentence nearly three weeks ago, said he would hear the appeal on Friday and then decide.

The judges said they all agreed for different reasons that Mr Demjanjuk should go free. That brought to eight the number of Supreme Court judges to rule in his favour. 'Each one of the three judges in his own way reached the same conclusion that there is no choice but to reject the petitions in this case,' the Supreme Court Justice, Gabriel Bach, said.

Baruch Marzel, a leader of Israel's ultra-nationalist Kach movement, threatened that Jews would kill Mr Demjanjuk if the Supreme Court set him free. 'We will make justice,' he said. 'Demjanjuk one day will be killed by good Jews and not by corrupt Jews like we have in the High Court in Israel.'