The Week Ahead: Demjanjuk looks forward to freedom

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The Independent Online
JOHN DEMJANJUK, who was sentenced to death in 1987 for Nazi war crimes, could walk free on Wednesday, when the Israeli Supreme Court decides whether to release him following his successful appeal or try him on new charges. The court last month overturned Mr Demjanjuk's conviction of being 'Ivan the Terrible', a gas-chamber operator at Treblinka; but he may be tried for allegedly having been an SS guard at other Nazi concentration camps.

The court allowed Mr Demjanjuk's appeal because KGB archives identified 'Ivan' as another man - but added that there was ample evidence that he had been a guard at two other death camps. Survivors of the Holocaust and many others have asked that he stand trial for his alleged activities at Flossenburg and Sobibor, where 250,000 Jews died.

The Israeli Attorney General, Yossef Harish, told the judges last week that the government did not intend to re-try Mr Demjanjuk. Mr Harish, who acted 'with a heavy heart', said he feared the risk of double jeopardy - of trying Mr Demjanjuk twice on the same evidence.

If freed, Mr Demjanjuk will be deported to Ukraine, his birthplace.

In Iran, the Majlis (parliament) is to vote today on the new cabinet chosen by President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. He was forced to compromise in his selection after learning that deputies would not approve several ministers; most deputies appear satisfied with his reshuffle. However, newspapers warned that a few nominees might fail the vote or, at best, scrape by. Mr Rafsanjani said he had discussed the cabinet changes extensively with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, whose denunciation of the pursuit of material wealth and disregard for social justice is used by some deputies to criticise ministers. Radical deputies, who have clashed with the President over his economic and foreign policies, have rallied to him recently to thwart conservative pressures.

The Central African Republic holds a first round of presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday. Polls held in October were declared null and void because of irregularities. The nine presidential candidates include the incumbent, Andre Kolingba, and David Dacks, a former president.

Vietnam and the United States on Thursday begin their 25th joint search for US servicemen missing in action (MIA) during the war. The search is unlikely to uncover any prisoners of war, but Vietnam's co-operation should make it easier for Bill Clinton to lift the economic embargo on Hanoi, which has been in place since the end of the war. The MIA lobby is now the only group opposed to ending the trade ban.

Forensic science has come so far in the past 20 years that the US cannot find an unknown soldier for its Vietnam War memorial. This fact may please experts gathering in Budapest on Sunday for the 11th International Congress on Criminology.